The Trick is to Die Young, as Old as
"On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of those who waited, and while waiting, died".......
Cindy's May Blog
Feel Free to browse past blogs for plenty of travel ideas and many of the places we've been in our first 12 months on the road - 2007 Blog's
Well-behaved women seldom make history
Sunday May 4th 2008
I have read many blogs or web sites that talk about the let down of getting back to the US after having an extended stay in Mexico, Baja, South America or any of those places that haven't caught up to the modern world yet. As for myself, I don't have that same reaction after coming home to my native lands, although I do understand their feelings.
They all speak of the traffic, the fast pace of our American lifestyle, the lack of consideration for fellow man kind. Fortunately for Pat and I, my life is surrounded by a wealth of generous people who fill me to the top with kindness, humor, and a feeling of well being.
I really enjoy the traveling of the US highways which are filled with all walks of life. I enjoy driving beside a vehicle which contains another person or two for me to inspect. From their clothing to their sunglasses, their hairstyle to their cell phone, I guess I enjoy staring. I like to imagine what type of music they are listening to or if they are heading to a meeting, going home or to a forbidden rendezvous with a secret lover.
In Mexico, one lane roads with incredible scenic views for as far as the eyes could see filled our travel time which was also incredible, just not as imaginative. Aqua filled views of the Sea of Cortez from atop a huge rocky mountain range dotted with cactus and sparse flowers which flowed from the ancient formations down to the waters edge.
Single lane, narrow, winding pathways cut through a mountain side of lava which was formed millions of years ago don't allow for near as much people watching. I actually closed my eyes every time we came across anything larger than a Yugo.
My thoughts on these roads were filled with imagination and foresight, however most of the time my mind was wrought with the fright of driving over the edge, grazing another vehicle, or a head on collisions with a stray cow.
Sure the traffic here in the States is sometimes tedious and stressful, but I have learned to appreciate it in a strange sort of way. I guess one never really gets the chance to really see the upside in a not so up situation until they see the opposite side of the coin.
I also enjoy the feeling of being at home wherever I am when I am in the US. With the warm welcome home given to us by Jeff, Lori and the kids, I knew it was time to come home and that I would be happy here. It is hard to beat the feeling of being accepted, welcomed and very much alike the people around you.
We have made our way back to Arizona for a bit and are visiting one of my favorite people in the world. Darrel, from our long stay at the Salt River, is here in the warmth of Arizona. We have had the pleasure of our long over due 4 o'clock happy hours and some incredible dinners with some catching up on friendship time.
I don't know what it is about this guy but he really makes me happy to be me. He brings out the very best feelings and humor in my personality as well as makes me forget the flaws in myself. I don't think I have ever met anyone like Darrel who has had this effect on me but I feel fortunate to have him as a friend.
I feel like we have become almost a part of his family here in Arizona. We have really gotten to know his son who lives here, Scott, as well as Scott's wife and kids. We had the pleasure of a family dinner made by Scott at his home this week. We enjoyed lump crab stuffed halibut, steamed red potatoes topped with a sour cream and dill sauce, accompanied by some fresh mozzarella and pesto covered grape tomatoes. Sounds delicious doesn't it?
I finished up the evening with some Yatzee played with the cutest kid in the world, Cody, who by the way kicked my butt at the ripe old age of 7. Cody showed me some of the best hospitality that I have seen, insisting that he sit beside me during dinner and keeping me occupied with some great conversation throughout the meal.
Being entertained by his wife Yumi and beautiful daughter Chayse was quite a treat. Yumi is from Japan and has lived here for many years. She is not what I pictured at all when I think of a Japanese women. She is very tall and thin with long highlighted hair framing her full lips and high cheek bones. Add her outward beauty to her very funny, out going personality and it's a winning combination.
She and I shared a few glasses of wine and lots of laughs as we walked through the neighborhood meeting the neighbors. She introduced us to a couple across the street, Karen and her partner. I also had the pleasure of meeting Dave who lives a few houses up the road and is also an avid RVer.
I told Pat and Darrel on the way home that this was just like going to my sister-in-laws house and I really felt at ease in their home. This is just another testament to the comforts of being back where we belong, in the USA.
Life is good here in our little camper filled with memories. We are trying to get all of our photo equipment replaced before we go to Monument Valley this week for a photo seminar. Pat got a new Canon 5D which he really likes and my lens is being repaired in California which will be overnighted as soon as it is completed.
Our insurance covered the entire loss and even let us keep the 1D to use as a paper weight if we want to. I will get to hold this huge dramatic mistake of Patrick's over his head for a lifetime which sort of puts a grin on my face. I have learned to say "well at least I didn't drop eight grand into the ocean like you did" for almost any occasion.
We can be taking the dogs for a walk and see a stream and I will say something like "Hold on to the cameras" I don't know how much longer I can milk this thing but I will use it as long as possible.
Soon I will be back to taking photos again which will be a nice change. It was tough giving up my camera to Pat for a month but I know he is much better at taking photos than I am. Photos are his passion where as cooking is mine. Grocery stores are another luxury which I have taken for granted all of my life.
I guess these past few days have been filled with feelings of thankfulness and joy for the people in my life and the places we are able to see. I thank God everyday for the gifts that I receive each time I wake up. I have my health, my family and friends that make my life very full of happiness and wonder.
If my time on this earth ended right now, I would have to say I have lived life to the fullest, have no regrets and wouldn't have changed a thing.
Tuesday May 6th 2008
We have been in Monument Valley now for three incredible sunrises and three sunsets. I must say that these are some of the most incredible photo opportunities that we have ever had the chance to take advantage of.
The monuments are an incredible piece of this earths testament to time. The giant pillars of sandstone are showing their age by the shredded slabs that have fallen to the earth leaving room for a new eco-system to flourish on. The shear faced rock with a patina of deep blue, gray and muted black adds to the texture and feel of the sandstone.
Shallow pits in the surface of the monuments lead the eye down to the rock which has fallen away from the security of the ancient worn cliff face. These trails of loose gravel leave opportunity for Russian thistle, thin leafed yucca and desert cactus to prosper in the newly fallen soil.
We are surrounded by miles of red earth that leads to the mountains of Utah and Colorado from the desert of Arizona. During the early dusk, if the skies are clear, the eye can even see as far as the snow peaked mountains of Colorado as were only 50 miles from the Four Corners region.
We have also had the pleasure of rain fall here in the Valley which only lasted for a few minutes however the wind that came with it was frightening. We have been covered by heavy, dark gray clouds which roll just above the tops of the monuments. Large streams of mist rain down from the sky but never actually reach the ground.
Every few minutes Pat and I would say to each other "look outside now!" wondering when the sky would let loose of the cumbersome clouds that it held.
We came here to meet a few couples which share the same passion for photography that Pat and I do and also to learn a few tips on Photoshop. Steve and Bobbi Bingham had contacted Pat through email and proposed a weekend of sharing each others knowledge with like minded couples, so we jumped on the chance.
Unfortunately the 6 couples that were supposed to attend dwindled down to a total of 7 people. The economy and the price of fuel has kept most people from taking any journey in their RV's. This however has worked to our advantage since we got much more one on one learning time.
Most of our time here has been spent either driving around taking photos or meeting new people here at the campsite. I say campsite, but it is actually a red dirt parking lot. Apparently the Monument Valley Tribe of Navajo's is building a new hotel where the old campsite used to be so they no longer supply showers, picnic tables or flushable toilets.
This doesn't really matter to us though since it is only $10 a night and the dogs really look good in pink. Both Luca and Lucy are most likely permanently stained from the bright red clay colored dirt which this area is famous for. The first day I was a bit concerned what damage these red dogs might do to the camper but I got over that real quick.
The camper floor has a nice pink hue to it and both dogs look extremely feminine wrapped in there new pink fur coats.
It has been really hard to get up early enough to catch the sunrise every morning and I have found myself loosing much sleep checking and rechecking the clock so that we don't miss the creeping of the the sun light into our morning. The lose of sleep has been well worth it since these photos are some of the best I have ever taken.
It has been hard for me to get used to a lens that is not my big 'L' lens since mine is still in the shop, however after the second day I hit my photo taking stride and haven't looked back.
We have met a bunch of nice people in the camp site however most of the people here are from Europe and are driving rental campers. I told Pat that we fit right in since everyone thinks we rented this rig also.
The first night we were here I was sitting outside reading a book when a vehicle pulled in and began setting up a tent in front of us, but on a lower level. Scooter was a gentleman and came to make sure that he hadn't ruined our view by parking where they did.
We talked for a while and he explained that he and his partner Tim, are from Washington State and have flown here, rented a vehicle and are on a two week road trip. We actually ended up having a great time with the two of them and shared some photos which they have taken since they started their tour.
I introduced Tim and Scooter to what I call Cowboy coffee before they took off for the second half of their vacation. I made them both a cup of strong black coffee and gave them the warning about the bottom of the cup. With coffee brewed on the stove in an old fashion percolator I always have grounds in the bottom.
I don't think I will be able to go back to the brewed coffee since the cowboy way allows for so much of the flavor to be brought out of the ground beans. This stuff is strong and as long as its very fresh, its never bitter.
We spent an afternoon with Bob and Diane, another couple who has come to the gathering. They were nice enough to invite us all into their large RV to look over our photos. Steve looked through our work and gave us some pointers on movement of the photo and also on lighting.
I learned a bunch of new things about Photoshop which Pat insists that he has already taught me. Mark that one up to selective hearing I guess. It's funny how when Pat shows me something, he is telling me what to do, however if a complete stranger tells me the same thing, I'm learning new things.
Wednesday May 7th 2008
With the heavy cloud cover that you can see above also came a wind storm. Wow, this sure is fun, NOT! If anyone travels in a camper they will know what I mean when I say these things are not air tight. I have been put to the challenge of keeping our counter tops free from this pink flour like substance that keeps creeping through our windows.
The couch is starting to pick up a slightly different color as well as most of the other items in the camper. I think that since we are sitting on top of this ridge we are bound to be pelted with the brunt of the pink sand filled winds.
Pat and I volunteered to drive our vehicle to see The Valley of the Gods which is just about an hour up the road. Since we literally can't walk out the door here without getting a mouthful of sand, we figured maybe a car ride would get us out and about.
One of the photo camp attendees, Bob, is riding with us so we can conserve on fuel. Bob is a pretty interesting guy who is traveling the country in the back of his pick-up, topped with a home made slide in. He has a beautiful dog named Homer which keeps him company for the ride.
Bob retired from a grocery store chain a few years back and left his home state of Alaska to see what North America has to offer. Needless to say, we had some interesting stories to keep us interested during our trip.
The Valley of the Gods is alot like Monument Valley with all of the tourists removed. It seems to have more rainfall hear than Monument Valley. This is apparent by the amount of greenery that covers the rolling hills surrounding the peaks of sandstone.
Many types of wildflowers dot the side of the road as well as juniper, and cottonwood trees. The small yucca plant is in full bloom here in this Valley and are everywhere one looks. If the lighting would have been not so cloud covered, the photo opportunities would have been immense.
As it was, we tried to take advantage of every sun ray that peeked through the cloud coverage to warm the valley. A few photos turned out alright but nothing that is going to put a spark in my pants.
I think that these windy days are getting the best of all of us and we might just move somewhere else. It is hard to socialize when we cant all fit into one camper without sitting on each others laps. The weather is wearing us all down and keeping us from really getting to know each other.
We will decide on a spot tomorrow to bring our homes to that might be a bit more easier to accommodate our small group.
Check out the Monument Valley Gallery for some Fantastic Shot of this Beautiful Area
Thursday May 8th 2008
Waking up at a reasonable hour was very refreshing this morning. As soon as we saw the rest of our party stirring about, we headed over to Steve's house. The morning started of surprisingly sunny and warm in comparison to the past few days. Little, if no wind was blowing, so maybe our travel plans were looking up.
We sat under the palapa in front of Steve's camper and began to talk about photos and how things would have been better yesterday if the sky would have been in our favor. It seemed like one by one people were dropping off to go home for a jacket or something warmer to cover up exposed skin.
By the time I came back with a coat, gloves and a hat, everyone had emerged into the warmth of the camper. This is a 25ft travel trailer which is the same size as ours. This Nash camper is laid out completely different than ours giving it more seating and less floor space which worked out great for the seven of us.
Each person brought a few of their favorite photos into the mix and asked the rest of us our opinion. Steve would show the lighting changes that were optimum for each picture and how to accomplish this on Photoshop. After an hour or so, we began to hear the rain start coming down. Much to our surprise the noise wasn't rain, it was hale.
The winds picked up again bringing us all into the conversation of where we wanted to move to. I went home and checked the weather on our computer for Moab, which was cold-windy and rainy, I then checked the weather for Page, which read warm-bright and come on over.
The decision was made to head to Lake Powell at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Campground. The trip over was just breath taking, at least that is what Pat told me when we got there as I pretty much slept the whole way.
I don't know why I can't keep my eyes open in the truck anymore. It's just like a baby in a rocking chair, only a few minutes and my head gets heavy leaving my eyes with no option but to close. Most times Pat won't even let me sleep, giving me the guilt trip of "why do you get to fall asleep when I has to drive." Lately though, I think he enjoys the silence since we have been cooped up in the camper for a few days.
What a nice change this camp ground was compared to the red dirt parking lot at Monument Valley. I could feel a sigh of relief release from my chest when we pulled in. They had a store and laundry facilities, concrete slabs to park on and fire rings and char grills as well as pull-thru sites.
Our view was overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Powell and shade trees were abundant. We all got settled in and finally had a chance to sit down and shoot the shit. Pat and Steve went to buy some fire wood and the beverages started to flow. The bonfire was warm and lasted for a long time, I think I was the first to fall asleep, again.
We all laughed with each other and talked about family and friends that we had left behind. This felt much better here and I had a good feeling about our fellow camping mates. It is really hard to have a convergence of the minds when they are filled with fast blowing sands.
Friday May 9th 2008
Who put the Energizer Bunny in my head with that stupid drum pounding away? What the hell happened to me last night? Pat keeps smiling that weird smile and smacking my butt with a kiss on my neck. He is extremely happy and I don't remember a thing? I used to be the girl that could drink a rum delivering sailor under the table. I can remember the nights at the Red Dog when myself and an employee named Cindy had Cindy Squared nights.
She and I would be the only ones working and the bar would be packed full, all tables filled with males. This was a night where everyone knew we would accept the beverages that were bought for us. Always Jager Bombs and always done at the table with the purchaser.
We could do 12-15 shots in a night and still be able to walk and talk completely fine and wake up with a spring in my step. Last night I had four glasses of wine, two chocolate chip cookies and hours of conversation and I felt like I had been hit by a truck today. I know it's those darn chocolate chip cookies, I'm never doing that again.
The worst part is that I have got so much to do today, I have no time for nursing myself back to health. Pat and I have no clean anything left. The sheets, blankets, clothes, floors and furniture all needs to be cleaned not to mention the fact that I have no groceries left.
Pat literally yelled me out of bed at 7 this morning so that we could make it to the ranger station to enter a lottery to do a particular hike called The Wave. They accept names from 8:30 am to 9:00 am and only 10 people are chosen each day.
The hike is called The Wave and we are both very anxious to be able to photograph the place. I sat quietly in the passenger seat, praying that I wouldn't have to hike anywhere today. I learned that even if we did win, which we didn't, the hike wouldn't be until the following day.
After we had chosen our loosing numbers we went back to camp to start on the laundry. Only three washers were available which took me forever to finish since I had six loads. Even after I had fumbled through the first three loads, my head was still throbbing and I felt like I could have eaten the ass end of a rhino if it had enough salt on it.
My hunger pains were insatiable, spending most of my laundry coins on Hot and Spicy pork rinds, Crunchy Cheetos and Salt and Vinegar potato chips, all eaten in the privacy of my truck like an addict getting her fix.
After the over indulgence of sodium and MSG, my fingers began to look like Vienna Sausage links, even going as far as being painful to wear my usually loose wedding rings. My eyes started to puff up as if I had been suffering from a mace attack. Thank God it is sunny here so I didn't look silly when I wore my sun glasses inside of Wal-Mart.
Maybe people would think that I am so care free that I had forgotten to take them off while searching the snack isle for more sodium to ingest. After shopping for at least 20 bags of groceries, I found Pat in the magazine section and we drove home to the solace of the camper.
I put the groceries away while Pat was visiting with the neighbors. This took forever since my brain was on the back burner and it was like doing a complicated puzzle, trying to place things in the right spot. I went outside to visit for a while with Bob, Diane, Steve and Bobbie who all seamed perfectly fine even though we all drank the same amount last night. They even stayed up a while longer than Pat and I did!
These guys whom the youngest one is 62 and the oldest is 72 had actually opened up a few more bottles of wine and were enjoying themselves immensely. I really am falling out of the loop of party animal with this 9pm bed time and the 5am wake up thing. Too much health food and long walks is making me soft.
I have told Pat that from now on we need to act our age and get out more to party with some people that don't out party us. Now here's the tricky part, if these guys are in their 60's who the hell are we going to find that is more our speed? I think there might be a few retirement homes in Arizona that we can hang out at, see if they are more our pace.
I ended the evening at 9pm with a few paragraphs of my book being read before the sleep fairy took my away to the land I've been yearning for all day.
Saturday May 10th
The day is looking much better this morning with the sun light coming through the window feeling soft and forgiving, not like spears penetrating my vampire eyes like yesterday. Pat sparked up the motor cycle to head out to the ranger station to apply again for a hiking pass. We figured that at $4.39 a gallon it is costing us 20 bucks a day to enter our numbers with the ranger station if we drive the truck back and forth.
On his arrival back home he gave me the disappointing news of our unlucky streak continuing. When he got back Bobbie and Steve had been getting ready this morning to go home. I have a feeling that they were feeling like I felt the day before.
I think the wine intake for the four of them was a little over four bottles so that shows how much fun they had. They said they were up past midnight and had a blast, too bad we didn't partake in the festivities.
We said good bye to the pair and also Shotgun, the nine year old, hundred pound, deaf dog who was just about as laid back as Bobbie and Steve. They only have a five hour trip till they get back to Payson which seems like a short trip for us at this point.
I could tell when they left that we had all gotten to know each other much better in Lake Powell because we had an easy feeling when they left of close friendship. Bob and Diane opted for another day as we had to relax and re-coop after the weekend.
I had a lunch packed and ready to go for a hike which was recommended by the rangers. This area is called Hackberry Canyon and is on a 15 mile dirt road off of HWY 89 to get to the trail head. I had picked this hike because it says in the flyer that it usually has 2 inch deep water running in the bottom of the canyon and it can be done bare footed since it was soft sand.
We haven't done any real hiking since we left Arizona on the Salt River, so I have been jonesing to lace up my boots. I would however make an exception if my other option was warm water flowing through a bed of silty sand that squished between my toes at all times.
We passed a few hikers that weren't as gung hoe about the barefoot thing however they did look envious as they tromped by in wet boots. We had some great photo opts in the canyon since the day was filed with sunshine and the weather was warm. At some points when a shadow would fall over the canyon the damp sand would get ice cold so we opted to stay in the flowing water which seemed to me like about 90 degrees.
At the end of the trail we still had some energy left as we sat on a boulder to let our feet dry before putting our boots back on. We decided on another hike which was only ten miles further up the dirt road. As we were walking back to the truck we came across a big lizard which sent Pat running and screaming like a little girl.
This thing actually came charging at his feet while we were inspecting him doing push ups while his blue ringed throat filled with air and deflated again. Pat jumped in the air as the 6 inch lizard came running between his legs looking for safety or another place to hide until he could scare the next unsuspecting tourists.
The next spot we planned on hiking was called Cottonwood Narrows and was hot and dry with no wind to speak of. We post holed through about a half a mile of 8 inch deep sugar sand until we had to boulder over a few manly rocks which blocked the pathway.
On the other side was more deep sand that was giving the old thighs a good burn. As we turned a corner I started explaining the flyer that I had read warning about legal traps being placed on this trail and wondered what kind of critters were in here.
I imagined bears wouldn't like the heat, tigers are from some other region, sheep and goat don't need to be trapped so the only thing I could come up with was coyote and mountain lion. I pitched my mountain lion theory to Pat just about the same time we came across a severed limb of a deer.
While Pat took photos, I planned my excuse to turn around. I was getting ready to give him the old, my ankle is really acting up when he suggested that we turn around since the sand was so deep and the air was so dry and hot.
Hey, he didn't have to ask me twice, severed limbs of any kind usually have that effect on me.
We didn't return to the camper until after dusk so I made some dinner real quick while Pat got some things ready to leave in the morning. We went over to Diane and Bobs for an after dinner drink and some conversation with someone beside each other while we still had the chance.
Diane and Bob totally remind me of Pat's Uncle Ralph and Aunt Pat. These are two of my favorite family members, so it is nice to have company. Aunt Pat is great to share a margarita or two with and then find out what she really thinks about stuff. She if very smart and strong willed just like Diane is.
We said our goodbyes tonight since we would be leaving early in the morning to try for the lottery again. This time bringing our camper along so we could camp just a short distance from the Ranger Station. We exchanged emails and told them to expect a visit sometime since we all enjoyed each others company so much.
Sunday May 11th
I woke up this morning with a yearning in my heart for family. I really miss my daughter on special days like this and wish that I had her near me to give and take hugs from. I called her as soon as I woke up since we would be gone all day and won't have a phone signal while hiking.
I don't know if she could hear the tears in my voice but I tried to hurry off of the phone so she couldn't. I called my mom and mother-in-law to wish them both a special day as I read their mothers day cards sitting in front of me.
I am so bad about that stuff, always thinking about these things a week in advance and never mailing the cards on time. Once the phone calls were finished, I got got to my days business.
We packed up early and got on the road, dragging our house behind us. We figured that since Bob, Diane, Steve and Bobbi were gone, there's no sense in paying $19 for a campsite that has no amenities. Luckily we can stay on BLM land for free most places out west which really makes me happy.
Right next to the Ranger station, where Pat is becoming a regular at, is the White House Campground which will be our home for the remainder of our stay. Our first stop however was another chance at the lottery. I figured we were a shoe in this time considering we would have three numbers to throw in the pot by now.
Unfortunately I saw another disappointing look of "I'm a Looser" covering Pats face as he exited the building. No problem, we had many other hikes to choose from in a close vicinity, so we didn't really mind.
We were still in the parking lot when I noticed this hot guy walking near the truck. His bicycle, which had a travel cart behind it was loaded with saddle bags and was parked right next to us. I was totally checking out his chiseled looks and the circumference of his calves (get your mind out of the gutter) when he approached me with a friendly hello. I had assumed that he would be European, since most people in this area are, but to my surprise he is from the Massachusetts.
We had a brief conversation, exchanging goals and admiring each others rigs, while Pat was doing something in the camper. Pat came out and ruined the little fantasy I had churning in my head and introduced himself as my husband.
Hey a girl can dream can't she? Pat and I have always said "Once you stop looking and wondering, you're too old" Not that either of us would act on anything, we just have good imaginations.
We talked with Danny for quite some time, learning that he rides around 100 miles a day! That is about as much as we travel in a day in our vehicle. He was in the middle of an 800 mile trip, around what he called "the rim of the parks." Danny explained that he would be riding this tour in 7 days, no wonder why I was admiring his calves.
As the White House Campground came into site we saw a cool spot on the left side of the road. Shaded by a huge Page Sandstone rock and wrapped in an old Corral, this looked like the perfect spot to make camp. As we started to drive through the what looked like a circle drive, we began to sink. First it was the front tires, then the back tires, followed by the camper tires.
I finally said "STOP, we are so deep right now I can practically touch the sand from the passengers seat." Pat put it into four wheel drive, trying to proceed until we could hear the dreaded sound of the turbo whirling under our demand to wade through the deep sugar sand.
We regained our composure, found some rocks and sticks to put under the tires and threw it into reverse. Now Pat, since he is getting so good at removing us from sand, rocked the truck back and forth until the tires felt freedom. Just another day in the life of MacGyver, always looking for adventure.
We ended up pulling into the campground anyway, finding the only spot that the camper would fit. I think this is more of a tent camping area since all of the picnic tables are up on the hillsides. As soon as we got us leveled out, I packed up some lunch and we headed for Coyote Buttes North.
We had to take a rough dirt road for about 10 miles to get to the trail head parking lot which was almost full already. The hiking fee is $5 per person and $5 per dog which we happily paid the 10 bucks since we left the dogs at home.
The first part of the hike is through a deep sand wash which was followed by a steep incline up a red sand covered hillside. When we reached the top, both of us were huffing and my legs had a nice burn to them. After continuing a mile or so further we had finally reached Coyote Butte.
This area is amazing, located in the Vermillion Cliffs of Arizona, it was not incorporated into the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument until November of 2000. The park previously consisted of 23,000 acres, all of which are in Utah. Adding the additional 89,000 acres of the Arizona side has made this park a very impressive size.
The land lies amongst the Paria Wilderness area and is a geologists dream. The rock formations have been carved through out time by water from the previously rapid flowing Paria River and more recently by the strong blowing winds through the now dry lake bed.
Hiking amongst the Navajo Sandstone formations is like walking through a different time on earth. The deformed, twisted, remnants of an era passed create almost a bell effect on our voices as we walked through them. The noise level was pretty much non-existent except for the few desert birds which flew overhead looking for prey hiding in the many crevices of these monsters.
The amount of life that survives on these hard surfaces is unbelievable. Many different types of cactus and desert flowers bloomed in full color with the back drop of the orange sandstone giving them added beauty. Flowers ranging from purples, pinks, reds, yellows and even some daisies make their home here in the many orifices that split these rocks.
Pat and I walked until I felt like we were lost with all of the formations kind of closing in on me after a while. We sat down to have some lunch and agreed to turn back before we got too disoriented. Since the day was still young we wanted to venture into the slot canyons which were a couple mile hike from us.
The walk back down the huge hill of red sand filled both of my hiking boots with so much sand that I felt like I was wearing a size 2. I stopped at the bottom and emptied about a cup of sand out of each boot only to refill them on our way to the canyon. You'd think we were in a desert or something with all of this darn sand!
The slot canyons were well worth the additional hike that we made. These rough sided walls seemed to wrap around us like a mothers arms as we trudged through them. When the wind blew from either direction the realization of how these thin ribbons of sand are carved became perfectly clear.
Pats hat kept flying off whenever a strong flow of air filled the canyon. The earth would fly into our eyes and leave us feeling like we had just been sandblasted all over our bodies. I think we spent a few hours in this short section of slot canyon leaving us with no more food and a minimal amount of water to make the trip back to the truck.
When we got back to the camper our exhausted bodies plopped down for some food and a nice cold Coors Light. Just as we were about to drift off while reading, we got a welcome knock on the door from a fellow hiker, Nathan. He had also had a long day of hiking and was eager for a cold beverage.
Since Nathan is in a tent, cold beverages are a luxury for him that we were glad to provide. We talked for a few hours until Pats eyes started to close leaving Nathan no choice but to say goodnight. We were in bed by 10 with throbbing legs from the deep sand, a back ache from our heavy packs and a feeling of well being in our hearts.
Monday May 12th
Finally, a day to do nothing. After loosing again, on The Wave lottery, we crawled back to our camper to sulk and take the day off. After this many days of hiking my legs are starting to feel like rubber anyway.
Pat worked on the computer and I hung out reading and watching the weather pass us by. The storm clouds are so cumbersome and thick here, looking almost like a smoky stew of some kind just waiting to pour down upon us.
The gripping winds of the west, which used to frighten me, now seem to gently rock me to sleep with my dogs by my side, not hearing a thing, just feeling the gentle thrust of the camper to and fro.
This might sound strange but we are on the go so often, moving almost every three to five days that we really don't have much down time. We are usually doing some outdoor activity, catching up on the every day chores or trying to research our next destination.
A day of rest is always a welcome reprieve, sometimes I find myself even wishing for bad weather to keep us still for a day or two.
Tuesday May 13th
Do you ever wake up and just think "I am not getting out of this bed."? I felt like that all day today, just wanting to stay in bed, with the remote, watch some mindless reruns of Gilligan's Island or I Dream of Jeanie and entertain my mind with no thought.
Be like a guy, completely content with eating cold crap out of the fridge instead of cooking while burping and scratching my head trying to thinking of what other spot in my house I can take up space with my useless self. Never getting out of yesterdays boxers and learning to love the smell of my own arm pits.
I am the kind of girl who actually enjoys all of those things. I have actually went to sleep with a shirt on, woken up in the morning, watched TV all day and then went to sleep in the same shirt with a few ketchup stains or maybe even left over spaghetti on the front of it.
Food stains are nothing to contend with in comparison to a day of red dirt in the mountains and sometimes when I hike, I know people think I have never heard of deodorant so that totally deletes my chance of sleeping in the same clothes. Add the mix of having no TV access, cooking for Pat and having no house to make myself useless in and my plans for the day were shot.
That leaves us the opportunity to hike again or stare into one another's eyes all day again today. I am not complaining folks but sometimes I just want to strangle my husband, especially after a long period of togetherness. Wait, what am I talking about, we have been together everyday since July 2006!!
I know, sometimes it even scares me to think that we are still best friends. I think part of the reason for that falls on our ability to fight. "What?" you say, I'll explain, you see we have this uncanny knack to absolutely drive each other nuts (mostly on purpose) and then get a great laugh out of watching the other one fume.
Sounds like a disaster doesn't it. For example, today as we drove down the road I was using my skills as a huge annoyance and making Pat very upset. I'm not sure now exactly what it was but after a while of me driving him nuts he turned to me and said "If you don't stop it, I will dot your eye." while shaking a fist at me.
Both of us sat in silence for a minute then cracked up when I asked him where did he come up with "Dot your eye?" That was a good one, he hasn't said in our 15 or so years together. Needless to say I was very impressed with this remark which made us both kiss and make up.
Not often do we actually have a real argument and I blame that on our little bursts of pent up energy exploding at one another. I think that allows no time for bad things to fester and grow ugly leaving us much more time to have fun instead of brooding.
After me prolonging our hiking trip for most of the day, we ended up doing a short 2 mile hike to the Toad Stools which is maybe three miles from our campsite. We took the dogs with us this time so they could get out some of their pent up energy also.
Another space-scape on earth, that is the only way to describe this place. Many different soft Page Sandstone formations (I just bought a book on formations and rocks, that's how I know this) topped with by a more dense rock leaves erosion to wear away the sandstone from beneath the rock. What this results in is strange looking pedestals that resemble mushrooms
We sort of got off of the trail a bit since it was not well marked which brought us to an area that I hated to even walk on. The Navajo Sandstone had turned into what looked like bubbling mounds of red clay. Every time we stepped on it we could feel it crumble below our boots.
We quickly turned around and got on the right track bringing us to an over look that was absolutely breath taking. We could see for miles around us and realized that we were right in the middle of a huge canyon. We sat for a while, listening to the blowing wind, soaking up the beauty that was in front of us.
Before we returned to camp we wanted to see one more place. We drove a10 miles in the other direction and came to the trail head. This is the sight of a few movies and also one of the first Mormon settlements in the area. Arson had claimed the buildings that were part of the movie set but the cemetery was still intact.
The ride there proved to be the best part of the place. The surrounding mountains, which are part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante are rich with mineral deposits which provides the eye with an array of spectacular colors.
This section of the mountains are said to hold over 200 million years of the earths history among them. They are a known resource of coal, oil, gas and other mineral resources which have never been mined due to the location and no form of transporting these commodities have been put in place.
As we rode in to the area all around us were ranges which have hues of purple, grey, green and white covered frontage. The base of the mountain ranges have been eroded to the point of becoming small canyons with deep crevices. The hillside were covered with juniper and cactus as well as some type of desert grass.
After stopping for some photos we travel to the end of the road at which point Pat found a deep sand trail that looked like it was made by four wheelers. Of course this meant he had to take the road even though I suggested very strongly that he didn't, we trudged trough, using the four wheel drive.
Surprisingly we didn't get stuck in the sand we did however, ruin the paint job on both sides of the truck with the amount of trees that lined this narrow trail. All I could here was a continual scrapping as I saw the branches fly by me.
Sometimes, Pow right in the kisser. Pat had a look of satisfaction on his face and explained to me that this was a good thing because he hates four wheel drive vehicles that don't look beat up. Go figure?
On the ride home the dogs didn't move since their hike wore them out. I gave Lucy some baby aspirin because she looked like her muscles were sore already as she walked through the camper. This little 9 year old Beagle turns into a pup when she get to run free, leaving her to pay the price once she slows down.
We all turned in early so we could be up in time to enter the raffle in the morning. I think that will make day number five so we have got much better odds this time.
Wednesday May 14th
For the past 3 weeks, whenever we have had a phone signal, I have been getting phone calls between 5am and 7am form a company called Encore. Apparently this is a collection agency that works for the Sam's Club Discover Card.
Back in November of last year I had canceled my Discover card and my Sam's Club card since I no longer used either. Both of them were in the name of The Red Dog so I no longer wanted them.
On the 7 occasion when I did speak with a collector I explained this and they said that after they read their notes they realized I should not have been called. This is one of those companies that is on an automatic dial so they start a 8am east coast time and when I answer I get a recording that say "Please hold for the next available operator"
This didn't entice me to hold until about the 10th time that they called which I was just curious to see who it was. By the time I got my last phone call at 5am, I was screaming at the person calling and demanded to talk to a manager.
I was told they would call me back within an hour which never happened. I finally called the Discover company again and explained the situation to which they agreed I should not be charged and apologized for the phone calls but could do nothing to stop them until the bill is paid?????
I spoke to her manager to which they did say they would eliminate the bill and also take care of the hit man, Encore. I swear I was ready to clime though the phone and strangle someone by the time I hung up.
After I got that situation out of the way, I had to call the IRS and explain to them that I had sold me business two years ago. How in the hell does the IRS not know that? Didn't they get my $50,000 that I paid in taxes last year? Don't they appreciate me at all for that generous donation?
The stressful part of the day was over so it was time for another quick hike. We first went to the Glen Canyon Dam Visitor Center and got to see how the dam was built and all of that stuff.
It was pretty wild seeing the photos of the water level 20 years ago on Lake Powell. I bet is has dropped at least 30 maybe 40 feet since the late 80's. We then ventured over to take a gander at the Horse Shoe Bend which is a few miles from the visitor center in Page.
This short 2 mile hike was so worth the effort considering the pay off when we reached the over look. The water that flows around the bend is so emerald green it looks like it has been dyed. I really can't even put into words the way this area looks so I will have to show you a photo.
The only thing that detracts from the beauty of this spot is all of the electric poles and wire that criss cross the hillside. This river was once described by one of the first explorers as a useless river that should never be visited again since the Colorado was nothing but raging water in the bottom of a gorge that was completely unattainable. I bet he's kicking himself in the grave right now.
With our fill of the incredible scenery we headed back to the camper for dinner. An early day tomorrow as we will be hiking Coyote Buttes since we never did win the stinking lottery for the wave.
Thursday May 15th
This area has probably been one of the most beautiful places we have been to since we have been on our trip. Not only is there an incredible hike every 10 miles, but the differences in the landscape around every turn keeps me wanting more.
We are leaving today but not until after we hike South Coyote Buttes. This hike has been recommended to us by numerous people and even though we should be driving toward California for the weekend, we are taking the time to get on last glimpse of the area.
We hooked up early and pulled the camper to the beginning of the road we will take to get to the trail head. The 25 mile unimproved dirt road to get to the trail head is bad, leaving my kidneys and my neck in a tizzy from all of the bobbing around. Steep grades and a few hills to climb seems to make our truck purr. I know this sounds strange but I think Bubba (that's the trucks name) likes the challenge.
Pat and I knew we had to rush so we could be on the road by 4:00, arriving in Death Valley by midnight. When we got to the where the formations started to transpire I said "Ok, lets take as many photos as we can in the quickest amount of time possible. This is so not like us, since we always try and take in not only the visual part of these places but also the spiritual part of them.
This hike ended up like the others, there was no way we really could rush through here since the surroundings were just breath taking. I hated to even walk on the delicate Navajo sandstone which has been carved out over millions of years. Lacy strips of pink and orange wrapped in different direction around the canyon.
Hoodoos which jutted from the earth loomed over the sculptures that flowed so gently. Silky ribbons of white intertwined with deep rust veins of sand that wrapped around us like walls in a fun house. Some of these smooth lines are topped with craggily, twisted mounds of sand with knots, warts and elephant skin patterns covering them.
Just as we would step through one area, the next would be even more incredible. I told Pat that no photo in the world could ever explain what we were seeing today. We had thunderous clouds hovering over us sometimes dropping cooling rain drops on us as we filled our eyes with this display of color.
We climbed to the top of an area that allowed us to see the entire valley below. Every now and then a ray of sunshine would light up a mountain top while the rest of the cloud cover caused dark shadows to add contrast to the vision.
We had some lunch and drank so much water I felt like a sponge, never quenching my thirst. We turned to go back to the truck after filling numerous memory cards with photos, only hoping that one might bring in some of what we are actually seeing.
On to the Paw Paws which are located just a few miles from here. The ranger had consistently stressed that this road could not be traveled unless the vehicle was a "high clearance 4X4" and she wasn't kidding. When we found the trail to get to the Paw Paws, the road seemed to narrow to half the size.
The ruts in the sand were so deep from people previously getting stuck that we could hear the sand rubbing the chassis of the truck as we throttled it through. I almost hit my head on the ceiling of the truck one time because the ditch we came out of popped the truck up so high.
I wasn't even sure at this point if we were on the right trail then we saw a sign that clearly said NO VEHICLES followed by another that said ROAD CLOSED. I told Pat that I thought we should stop or turn around but at this point there was no turning back, simply because we couldn't stop or we would just sink in the soft sugar sand.
Eventually we did arrive at the designated area and man was I glad to get out of the truck. Pat and I had a bit of a screaming match about who was the bossiest of the two of us. I think he won the match but then I wouldn't tell him that. We both exited the truck like a couple of stubborn brats and walked our separate ways.
Eventually we came to a spot to sit down, making out like two kids on the back of a bus until we forgot about our argument. The Paw Paws were nice but I think after our trip to Coyote Buttes anything else would be a disappointment.
I did find a really neat formation that I think looks either like George Washington or the grandpa on The Simpsons. Pat thinks it looks like the Grimace from McDonalds which I can sort of see too.
After some more heavy duty four wheeling, we finally came to the unimproved road which was very smooth in comparison. We hooked up to the camper again and made the long journey back to California. Pat remarked on how strange it was to be in Arizona, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California all in the same day and only a few hours time.
We got a chance to see a glimpse of Zion National Park as we drove through the breath taking canyon, but I told Pat we would have to come back to enjoy all of it before we start to tell you about it. We also had the joy of a blow out on the camper just as we went through the Virgin Gorge.
I looked at Pat and said "Do you hear something funny?" We pulled over to find one of the tires had not gone flat but all of the tread was coming off of it. I have never seen anything like it before. No real damage was done to the camper, just a few black marks above the wheels and we lost our shinny hub cap that covers the lug nuts.
We pulled into the campsite around midnight and I headed straight for bed as Pat stayed up a bit and talked to the fellas. We will see what tomorrow brings since it is supposed to get up to 104° here. Pat will be in the mines all day while I hang out at the camper with the A/C going.
Friday May 16th
I was awakened this morning at 6am by my pit bull, Luca. He has the yeast infection back in his ears again, poor guy, and it drives him and me crazy. He is constantly shaking his head and itching his ear until he cries.
The vet said if the infection keeps coming back that we need to change his food to an allergy friendly dog food. None of the grocery stores we have been to carry anything like that, so I guess I will have to go to a vets office to buy it. Does anyone know if I can give dogs plain yogurt to help?
When we got up it was already 78° in the camper, yikes! I took the dogs out for their walk before it got too hot and I even ran for the first time since my blue ankle incident back in Baja. Looks like it is finally healing even though it does hurt a bit, it doesn't swell at night any more.
The guys got up and got ready to go mine exploring by around 10:30am. They looked so cute in their matching hats and the gear they wear, I just had to take a picture. I told Pat to go today and if he thought I wouldn't freak out due to claustrophobia, then I would go tomorrow. I spent the day finally catching up on my blog and sweating my butt off.
The dual generators that we have so that the A/C works, didn't work. Pat assured me that all I had to do was start them and they were both full of fuel with another two gallons to spare. I guess he was mistaken since when he came home he informed me that it was out of gas. This gives me the first hand knowledge of the meaning of dry heat anyway.
I really didn't start to sweat profusely until it reached about 87° in the camper. I shared a few choice words with the panting dogs about my husband and wondered over to Dave's trailer which felt more like an ice box. They had left the air on since he has about 32 gallons of fuel in his toy hauler which powers the big generator and they wanted the place nice and cool when they came back.
I started to get worried about them at sevenish since I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to go under ground in a dark hole for 8 hours. They eventually showed up a bit after 8 covered in dirt all nice and smelly.
We had some dinner and sat around a camp fire as it cooled down to around 75° at night. We met the rest of the guys who had pulled into camp while Pat and the others were down in the mine. A larger group is going to be exploring the mines tomorrow and as they sat around discussing mine exploring things, I realized had no grasp on anything they were talking about.
I usually know at least a little bit about all this guy stuff, however this is a new sport that neither Pat nor I have ever participated in. I was informed that I need not worry about going underground tomorrow either since Pat knew that I would freak out.
He said it wouldn't be bad if it was just he and I, but he wouldn't want to have to talk me into stuff the whole time while other people were waiting. Good thing we figured out the generator thing because I can stand sitting in a hot metal box again, that shit wears you out.
Saturday May 17th
This morning as Pat and I had breakfast I asked him if I should go with them today which he responded with a resounding "No". He explained that there are to many areas which I would have a hard time crossing or climbing into due to my freaking closed space phobia.
I don't think that all of the coaxing in the world would have made me go through those tunnels, so it was better if I just stayed back.
He said if it was he and I that he wouldn't mind talking me through something like this which he is used to, since I am always the skeptic when ever we try something new. He usually has to talk me into all of the events that we do even if there is a slight risk of injury to it. I always end up enjoying myself and being glad that I went, but I need a little coercion.
With all the other guys along, it would take him way to long to walk me through these places. He knew I would hate every minute of it. So just as I figured, this long haul in the opposite direction of where we want to be was a dud for me.
I had explained to Pat that this trip was going to cost us over $540 in fuel to come here and then return back to Bryce Canyon like he wanted to do. With me considering the fact that the heat would be excruciating and I would be either hanging out with a dozen males or sitting in the camper by myself, I did not want to come at all.
I reiterated this a dozen times so finally Pat said, call "Jeff and tell him then since you keep complaining." When I got ahold of Jeff, who has grown to be one of my favorite people, I just couldn't do it. He was so excited for us to go with them and had the weekend all planned out with me included in all of the exploring, I just couldn't burst his bubble at the last minute.
Pat compromised and said that we would stay in California for the next couple of weeks instead of coming right back to Utah. This way we would not be wasting so much gas and we could also see Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks while we are here which would make everyone happy.
The boys took off by 10am this morning with the intention of being under ground just as long as yesterday, at least 8 hours. Pat started up the generators before he left since it was already 93° out.
I had caught up on everything while being by myself for 8 hours yesterday so today I started a new book. Just about 30 minutes after Pat and the boys left, the generators quit. I tried to see if I could fix them, but I have no knowledge of the workings of the double generators in my repertoire.
When the camper reached 90° at about noon, we went over to Dave's camper and turned on the A/C. Dave was being very generous to offer his place for me to stay while the boys were gone but neither myself, nor the dogs, were very comfortable in there. It is weird just to sit in someone else's toy hauler for hours on end with nothing to do but read.
I walked back to my camper a couple of times to get something or make some food for dinner. I also had to feed the dogs and give them water and such, so I made so many trips back and forth that I finally just said screw it. We ended up staying in our camper when the heat had dropped back down to 93° inside. I now know what they mean by saying "It's a dry heat"
After a while, the heat didn't bother me too much and I would put a cool towel on the dogs when they would start to pant. The day slowly passed by pretty much uneventful except for a BLM park ranger checking on the camp. Apparently they are expecting a rave party at this spot this weekend and they want to keep an eye out.
I watched as one person had come back from the days events, followed by a group of people, then it seemed as though everyone was back except for Pat's group. I asked one of the gentleman if he thought this was normal for the guys to be out by themselves past 9pm to which he answered "No".
This scared the shit out of me! All of the pros had come back and my boys were still out. Pat had told me of how dangerous this was and shown me photos of collapsed walls and moving ladders and all sorts of scary stuff.
At this point I not only had 12 hours to sit and brew about me even being here to begin with, thinking of how selfish this was on Pats part to even ask me to take this trip. You know how when you just sit and think about stuff, you automatically get this drama thing going on and poor pitiful me is the common thought in your mind.
I was now past the anger, I had become a martyr, a patron saint of the women left behind while the guys were having fun. Pat then became the villain, even though I agreed to this trip, and he had no idea I was angry, I got it into my head that he knew it would be so hot and also that I would have a terrible time, as he did the fun things that he wanted to do.
Now, I had worry thrown in with my anger and self pity which made for a bad mix. At about 9:30 I saw Mikes vehicle pull in with Jeff, Dave and Mike in the car. Jeff got out and said "Hi, where's Pat? Didn't he come back a while ago with the other guys?" I seriously almost broke out into tears, I was hot, tired and worried so this was the wrong time to be playing a game with me.
I had a look of shock on my face, then I saw Pats head poke out from behind the back seat. I just looked at all of them and said "That was not funny at all" then I calmly walked into the camper and closed the door.
With Pat and I, if you see us bickering that means we are just having fun and kidding around. If you don't see us bickering and I am quiet, this is bad news. When Pat walked in the camper and started to talk to me all I said was "You would be better off just to not speak to me because I might say some mean things."
He immediately apologized for being so late to which I let him know that it was not that he was late, I understand that, it is the bringing me here at all, not even thinking about what a terrible place this would be for me to stay in by myself with no electricity or any good air to breath all day long. I had endured such a tragic day in my mind since I constantly went over the events of the day, contorting them to end up thinking that this was a plan to make me sweat.
He knew that I wasn't happy with the situation yesterday, even though I didn't verbalize this thought, so why would he do it again for a second day and be the last person back, making me worry. He was being absolutely selfish and thoughtless about anyone except for himself.
I refused to go over and eat dinner with the guys since I had already made food for them and put it in their fridge. I however cannot go for more than four hours at a time without food so I had already eaten. Pat came back over to explain that I was making everyone feel very uncomfortable and that I needed to be social so that the boys didn't feel bad.
I think this made me even more mad since they hadn't thought about how uncomfortable I have felt for the past 12 1/2 hours. Man, what a drama queen I had become, leave a girl by herself for a few days and look what happens.
I did however go over and talk for a while so that I wasn't such a b****. After dinner, the guys sat by a bonfire to which a mound of burning flames was the last thing I wanted after the 107 degree temperatures today. I went to bed and pitied myself a bit more before the night was over.
Sunday May 18th
I woke this morning feeling like I had a shoe stuck in the side of my head, not to mention feeling like a shmuck for my childish reaction to yesterdays events. I had the worst head ache and it was already 88 outside, giving me no relief insight. I walked the dogs before it got to hot for their paws to be on the sand and told Pat we should head out early so we don't suffocate.
He walked outside and started up the generators explaining to me that I must have done something to them to make them not work yesterday. This got my day going into a downward spiral already, remembering yesterdays heat torture in my mind again.
Ten minutes later, the thing died to which Pat explained that it was out of gas . He put gas in it and carried on with his day while the generators ran like a charm. I told him that I did the same thing yesterday and 45 minutes later the power shut down again.
He laughed at me which I almost punched him right in the eye. If I wasn't a hister sister, I would have thought I had PMS. Pat looked at me and said "why are you being such a physco, you just need to think things through before you freak out next time." I had to walk away because I knew the darn generators were not working correctly and Pat had now just made them work with no real effort.
Instead of us getting on the road early Pat brought out his arsenal of weapons and began to shoot targets that he and Jeff had set up. This put me in a better mood because I am a redneck and enjoy the sound of a gun and also enjoy shooting one. I shot a few rounds then came back into the A/C since it was now 97 out.
Within a few minutes the generators quit! I was so darned excited about loosing power that I almost jumped for joy. Pat was hanging out in the air-conditioned comfort of Dave's camper when I informed him that the generators had stopped again.
He came out and said with his profound wisdom "I think that they are not working properly" DUH!, that is what I have been trying to tell you for two days now. Pat, admitting that the generators are messed up, was a relief to me since I had begun to wonder myself, if I was loosing it or not.
This gave us the perfect opportunity for an exit since the day had begun to swelter already. We said our goodbyes to the boys which I wish I had gotten to spend more time with. They actually are a great group and are very funny and the time we did spend together was nice.
We made the decision to go to Pahrump where we could stay in a campground until this heat wave passes over. We also had to get a new spare and take care of some business while we had computer and phone access.
In just a 45 mile trip we were hooked up and ready for comfort from this crappy heat. Dinner and a movie put us into sleep mode at about 10pm. By this point I had begun to be civil to Pat, leaving my pity party behind me. I guess it's because even though I get so mad at him, at the same time he is so damn hot I can't resist him!!
Monday May 19th
I took advantage of all of the amenities that the Preferred RV Park has to offer today. Starting with walking the dogs on the grassy dog trail early in the morning. I then collected my laundry and used the clubhouse and pool while the laundry was being completed. It reached 107 before 2pm today so the water felt great.
I did some cleaning and rearranging in the camper which took only a few minutes! While the A/C was cranking constantly, the refrigerator flashed a light and started beeping, notifying us that it was no longer cooling. Pat pushed a few buttons and made the noise stop but we were both confused since the NO CO light was something we hadn't seen before.
A few hours later, the NO CO came back on, we both thought the heat was just too much for it and after the sun set maybe it would reset itself. This turned out to be the wrong diagnosis since it wouldn't come back on even when it got to 85 outside. I looked it up on line and tried to convince Pat to try his hand at electrical stuff.
He said he couldn't fix it since he has no idea about electrical things. I on the other hand know that MacGyver can handle all obstacle, even those that can send a bolt to knock his socks off. I read him the easy instructions that we found on line and both agreed to give it a try.
I wanted to make a loud bang noise just as he was grounding out the system so I could scare the crap out of him but he was tired, sore and grumpy after his weekend and I thought better of it.
I felt like we were in a Mission Impossible movie or something as I read him the instructions through the open door, while he dismantled the power box. It all worked out and the fridge came back to life with a few moments of tinkering.
We again watched a movie and off to bed with the A/C still working hard to keep it below 78 in the camper.
Tuesday May 20th
While Pat worked on his blog, which he had fallen behind on, I took this opportunity to wade through down town. Pahrump looks like it has been built around a few casinos and doesn't look to have much history to it. The main road is lined with strip mall after strip mall which I didn't mind today since I had some particulars to purchase.
I was looking for a concoction of rubbing alcohol, boric acid powder and gentian violet, to make a cleaner for Luca's ears. I found this remedy on line and am hoping it will help him with the yeast infection problem. I will let you know if it works since a few readers have responded, letting me know that they have the same problem with their dogs.
I went to D&D tire to get our spare replaced with a better, more durable tire than the Wal-Mart brand which only lasted three months. The young tire guy had to clime on top of the truck to get the tire down which when he looked inside the tire he got a strange look on his face. He called down to the other guy, "Hey, there's bones in this tire and some sort of dead fish."
I had forgotten that my bone collector husband had put a blow fish inside of the spare as well as a back bone of some animal which he found in Mexico. He kept them outside so that the inside of the truck wouldn't stink. The other guy asked me if I had any dead people in the back of the truck to which I replied "Why don't you clime up in there and see."
They both walked away with a baffled look in their eyes and said they would only be a minute. From the tire shop I found my way to the post office then to a health food store. I had run out of coconut oil which is what makes my popcorn and my chicken so good so I had to replace the stuff while I could.
A quick fill up on groceries then back to the camper where Pat had already called me twice to have me hurry back since he missed me. I like him again today, also wanting to hurry back to him since it has been so long since we've seen each other. Man, what are we going to do when we have to have real jobs?
The heat is just unbearable here again today however a cold front is coming through on Thursday dropping it down to a brisk 85!! We will stay in the campground until we have no fear of heat stroke while boondocking since we will be going through Death Valley.
Jeff has given us some great places to see in The Valley however I think we may be passed the cut off day of survival rates in the heat. I guess none of the campgrounds have full hook-ups in Death Valley so boondocking just isn't an option when the temps are reaching up to 120 every day.
This obstacle may just leave us the choice of passing right through Death Valley and making that trip some other time. I guess we will wait to see what mother nature brings us.
Thursday May 22nd Death Valley To Bishop
Finally getting a chance to make the excursion through Death Valley and my what a view. Today the heat wave broke, giving us the opportunity to breath outside instead of what seemed like panting. Pat and I began the ritual of "who's ready?" until we shoved off at 10am.
It's so strange how much I love to be traveling on the road. So often when we go-go-go, I think that I need a break, just some time to unwind, take a chance to settle in a bit into our surrounding area.
Just as it seems I am about to get settled, I yearn for some time on the road. I get in the passengers seat and a big smile will come over my face. I told Pat yesterday as we were driving, "Thank you for always being the driver because being the passenger on the road really makes me happy."
We looked for a fuel station before we got into California , knowing full well that the prices would jump at least .50¢ higher in California. The cheapest place we could find for diesel in Nevada was $4.49 a gallon. This really gives me a foreboding of what lies in our future and how this gas crunch will shorten our trip.
With prices heading in the skyward direction, not only for fuel, but groceries and everything else we need to survive, we won't be able to do much more of this type of traveling for much longer. I thought we had prepared for at least 4 years with my budget plan. Unfortunately I didn't take into account a continuing war, a recession and the surge on fuel prices into my paper work.
We talked about getting jobs today and staying in one area for a few months so that we can replenish our cash flow. That will be a tough decision as to where we might want to plant our temporary roots. We are considering Utah, Montana and Wyoming for some options but we have a while before we decide.
Death Valley was such a unexpected surprise, with the mountains that surrounded us because I thought everything would be flat and sandy. I guess I thought that about all of New Mexico, Arizona, and every desert in the US would look like the Sahara. Who knows, maybe the Sahara is mountainous, green and beautiful also.
My ignorance on the lay of the land for the USA never seems to amaze me. If I had to choose anything on this trip that shocked and surprised me the most, it would be how altered my impressions were on what the South West would look like.
As we climbed 1000 feet per mile out of the valley, Bubba's engine swirled its high pitched hum at us just trying to make the climb up with out blowing some sort of gasket. We pulled over a couple of times so that he could rest a bit while giving us some time to soak up the scenery.
By the time we rolled into Bishop, night fall was upon us. We parked the camper and heard the songs of one of our favorite country singers in the distance. Tracy Lawrence was the star of the big event on Thursday night and we just made the last 8 songs.
We snuck over to the main floor of the outdoor arena to see if we might catch a few shots. We didn't have a flash or any good visibility so we both did the best we could. I didn't mind though because I actually like to go places to enjoy myself and people watch instead of seeing everything through the small circle of a camera lens.
The events were wrapping up as the concert ended so we came back to get 40 winks before the early festivities began.
Friday May 23rd
The sound of ringing bells and clomping hoofs woke us this morning as we are backed right up to the race track which runs through the arena grounds. Beautiful mules line themselves up to show off their large ears and make this strange honking sound which puts a smile on my face every time I hear it.
There are so many breeds of mules here that I never knew existed. They range from the size of a large goat to over 7 feet tall. I have never seen so many varieties in all of my life. Apparently this festival has been going on since 1967 and has become part of the heritage and history here in Bishop.
Many events take place over the weekend including classes for the "wanna be" mule owners, shoeing of the bovine, and simply displaying them for others to enjoy. I even saw a few 'For Sale' signs attached to the back of some mules. I guess that would be a cheap form of advertisement.
Mule Days is definitely a family event considering half way through the show the announcer asked the crowd in a playful way, 'Who's drinking alcoholic beverages this evening?" and I could count 10 people clapping in a crowd of 1000. I bet Budweiser regrets sponsoring this event for beer sales! But I will admit that the weather is very chilly with everyone wearing gloves and hats and the Sierra's have a fresh few feet of snow on them from last nights storm.
We came back to the camper in the brisk air while watching the clouds cover the White Mountains behind us with snow. I guess that Mammoth, a town 20 miles up from us, got 18 inches of snow yesterday and again today.
That will block our trip over the Tioga Pass to Yosemite on Tuesday since they have closed the road again due to the snow and ice storm. No big hurry here since we are camped for free, enjoying some great family fun and not spending any gas money.
If I could recommend one thing to anyone who might come to this event next year, bring clothing in preparation for an extreme weather change and also some comfortable shoes. There are quite a few small shops and such to walk through not to mention all of the different BBQ places that are cooking up some delicious favorites right in front of you.
We will be here until Tuesday since we are waiting on some mail to come for us. My lens should be arriving any minute from Canon which makes me very happy. Maybe by then we will be able to cross the Tioga Pass into Yosemite if the weather prevails.
Wednesday May 28th
I'm not going to bore you with last weeks waiting process. I will say however that the Post Office in Bishop has one of the rudest clerks ever. Pat and I have been waiting for our big Canon lens to come in which was supposed to be mailed last Tuesday.
We called the post office on Friday and asked if we had a package in 'general delivery' which we always do in every state. The reply I got from the woman was "We are unable to check that over the phone, you must come into the office." I explained that we weren't sure if it was there and that numerous other Post Offices in the United States had checked for us without us driving there.
"Hold", was the only reply I got. She said it wasn't there and I thanked her for checking for me. We also called on Saturday and got the same response about driving to the PO. I asked very politely if she would mind checking since diesel prices are running at $5.39 a gallon, it would cost me $12.00 to drive across town to find out if the package was there.
This time she didn't even say hold, she just left the phone line. I was so upset over her rudeness, when we called again on Tuesday, I told Pat to talk to her so he would get the brunt of her bitchiness. While Pat asked if we had anything in General Deliver, I heard him explain that he wasn't going to drive across town just to check on a package. She asked him "Why do you think you're so special to not have to drive to the Post Office?"
Pat explained that "with the diesel prices this high, it was foolish to drive across town every morning just to check on the package." He even said something like "Do you think it would be good for the environment for me to waste that much fuel every day?"
She also asked him "Where do you live that you have to call and bother me every single day?"
Not that he needed to, but he told her about us full timing and again explained how much it would cost to even get to the Post Office from where we were. She then proceeded to tell him that he was "Costing tax payers money every time she took 30 seconds out of her day to check for our crappy package."
Well, she didn't say crappy, but I know that was what she was thinking. I wanted to go down to the Post Office and speak to a manager, but with my luck, she probably was the manager. Comes to find out the package was never even mailed from Canon, so we had a few more days to wait.
The fridge kept going out and we were also waiting for a repair guy to call us back, which never happened, so we finally gave up on the fridge, received our package, which we had over nighted to Phillips Camera House, a local camera store and left our home in the Bishop grocery store parking lot.
We found a quaint little campground just outside of town for $10 a night which was right on the Owens River. I did a bit of cleaning while Pat put a solar fan on the fridge with hopes that it will keep the thing working correctly. It was nice to be able to walk about with the dogs without looking both ways for traffic although, the view from the grocery store parking lot was much nicer. I joked with Pat that the parking lot view made for one of the nicest campgrounds we've ever stayed in.
I have had a little extra time on my hands since we didn't have any sight seeing to do, so I made some homemade Pizza, waiting for the dough to rise and everything. I made it with whole wheat flour and honey which made me not feel so guilty about chowing down on four pieces.
After Pat's fourth piece, he said "Get this away from me before I eat the entire pizza!"
Early to bed, early to rise, I am ready to start taking some photo's with my Big Daddy Lens tomorrow. We will be heading toward Yosemite and everything between for the next couple of weeks.
Thursday May 29th
These mountainous areas are killing our fuel mileage. We averaged about 7 miles per gallon today which left us at just about .77¢ per mile. I think riding in a taxi cab is cheaper than that! These hilly drives are costing us $7.70 per every ten miles, man I don't think we can be on the road for much longer at that rate, unless we stop eating which has crossed our minds.
We arrived at Mono Lake just before sunset today which gave us some incredible opportunities for photos. Mono Lake is located just outside of Lee Vining on Hwy 395. This lake is a work in process which has been turned around from a disaster in the making.
In 1941, Los Angeles decided that they had rights to this lake for their own water supply. They rerouted four of the rivers which supplied this lake with its fresh water supply, leaving this area nothing but a dusty, dried up lake bed which was emitting toxic dust into the air supply.
The birds in the area were diminished as well as most of the aqua life that survives here. The salt content of the water was so concentrated that the life that supported the ecosystem was almost completely demolished.
In 1978, David Gaines formed a committee to save the ecosystem which the city of LA was watering there lawns with. A committee of 20,000 people strong had the decision of rerouting the water supply over turned.
This was almost too late since the water level had fallen over 50 feet! Coyotes had taken the now showing land bridge to get access to the bird supply on a small island on the lake which was at one point 80,000 strong with birds.
The lake is on its way back up and has risen up approximately 25 ft. back to its normal level. The thing that makes this lake so different is the briny water which produces what is called Tufa's. These sculpture like forms which jut from the lakes surface form when the salt water and the fresh water combine.
These waters are thick with Borax, Baking Soda and Salt, add to this a bit of Plutonium and eruptions from the earth cause the Tufa formations to soar. All of these ingredients made for a great day out on the shore line, photographing birds, and incredibly clear water surrounded by snow capped mountains.
We came back to the camper for some dinner and an early night so that we could be up at sunrise to see what spectacular lighting Mr. Sunshine could bring for us. We figure this wouldn't be to hard to accomplish since we will be sleeping a stones throw away from the shore.
Friday May 30th
I was awakened twice last night by the yipping sounds of coyotes filling the camper. It sounded like they were so close to the camper but I'm sure that is not the case. We had seen a dead gull on the side of the water line while hiking around yesterday to which I wondered why it wasn't anyone's dinner.
The coyotes were probably enjoying that bird about 2am. We rose at 4am so that we could catch first light on the water of Mono Lake. When I looked out my bedroom to see how much more time I had to sleep, the sky was already filling with an orange glow.
Pat and I bundled up and rushed down to where we thought would be a good spot to capture the glow on the snow topped mountains. Before we got to our chosen spot, we each snapped a few practice shots which ended up being my favorites that we took.
This is actually the first place that we have done a sunrise and sunset shoot since we have been on the road, almost 16 months now. I'm not sure why but we just haven't made the effort to get up this early even though we know this is the best time of day to photograph.
We stayed out for a couple of hours, came back to the camper, where Pat took a nap and I did some stuff around the house. By the time we got on the road, I was dead tired and could not keep my eyes open. I looked at Pat and said "Goodnight" and was asleep within seconds.
The next thing I know we are pulling into Lee Vining City, at a local tire store to replace a tire which has Pat worried. For the past week he has been saying that we are going to have a blow out but we haven't found a tire store so we could replace it.
This little spot had fuel for $5.29 a gallon which is .30 cents cheaper than anywhere else we've seen. We filled up the three diesel containers in the back of the truck and purchased the only two trailer tires that would fit our camper that they had.
A few miles up the road is the entrance for Bodie, which is a ghost town that has been preserved as it was found and purchased by the state of California in 1961. It is estimated that 34 million dollars in gold was pulled from the mines between 1859 and 1942 when the government ordered it closed due to the war.
By 1942 the Cain family had pretty much taken it upon themselves to become the keepers of the mine and had purchased most of the property when the town caught on fire in 1932. Most people just picked up and left since the gold had all but dried up by then.
In the towns hay day, it is estimated to have been home to between 8-10 thousand people and was everything a mining town was known for. Over 60 saloons, no churches, brothels to find an honest woman at and enough killing and thieving to fill a book.
Eventually God showed his presence in the Methodist Church just off of Green Street but that doesn't mean that these miners changed there ways. As soon as I looked into the front door of the church, I thought of the movies, "There Will Be Blood" which totally creeped me out.
The streets are all named and a map to get around town can be purchased for $2.00 at the entrance to the park. I would highly recommend this since so much of the history of this place has been recorded. I would say that there are between 80-100 buildings left standing in the town of Bodie.
Some of them are lightly furnished as they were when they were abandoned and some are in such bad shape that we werent able to look inside.
What I found most fascinating about the site is that the current rangers, which keep the area from being looted, live in the homes that were erected back in the late 1800's. Apparently they have taken a few of the homes and left them exactly as they were on the outside but have redone the inside completely as a home would look today.
If they need to replace a roof or some foundation, they do so with modern technology to insulate and bring up to code. The park rangers live there year round and have to take snow mobiles and such into town for groceries during the harsh 8-10 foot snows.
The road is impassable so they go through the valleys with a compass to find their way into town. Sort of like the miners used to do before all of the new gadgets to get us around on.
After 4 hours at the mine Pats foot was aching and the small, ear biting bugs were really starting to get to us. I had worn a knit cap and my Molson Hoodie, which is still my favorite item of clothing, so I was not getting bit. Pat on the other hand had worn a T-shirt and no hat so he had tiny bite marks all up and down his arms and his ears were starting to swell.
We opted to go back to the camper even though we hadn't even seen everything yet since the town is still so huge. We came back down the mountain to Mono Lake where we found an incredible spot over looking the water.
I fell asleep by 9pm since I am trying desperately to fight a cold. I am achy and stuffy but still don't have the full blown cold yet. Lots of vitamins and plenty of fresh air is keeping me healthy to fight it off.
I'll listen for the coyotes tonight but something tells me I will sleep right through their call of the wild.