Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 37

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #37

Thursday, April 30, 2009:

 52 degrees this morning and clear but still windy. We reluctantly broke camp, left Zion NP and headed for the Zion Tunnel on the Mt. Carmel Highway. This one mile tunnel transit is a classic…..it was built in the 1920’s in order to provide direct access to Bryce Canyon NP and to The Grand Canyon NP. It is a very narrow arched tunnel with curves and not very high. Most RV’s need an escort through the tunnel and we were no exception.

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The transit went smoothly however and we were on our way toward Bryce Canyon via US-89.

Spotted this earlier RV along the main street of Orderville, Utah which US-89 runs through. It was next door to Mugwumps Antique Shop…..which wasn’t very orderly.  

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Turned off on US-12, a National Scenic Highway and continued toward Bryce.  We stopped to checkout Red Canyon Campground because it was right outside the National Park entrance and had access to some mountain bike trails. It had not opened for the season, but it looked like a good prospect for a future layover.

Entered Bryce Canyon NP around noon (once again, no entrance fee for OGC members) and stopped at the visitors center to pick up maps, brochures and view a 20 minute film on the history of the park. We decided to take the park drive to Sunset Point which sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet and get a windshield view of the beauty of the park. We passed through both of the parks campgrounds to check them out and made a few other stops along the way to get out, stretch our legs and enjoy the views.

We really wanted to spend a few days at Bryce but decided as there was so much more to check out and that it is already the end of April we will add this place to our Life (Bucket) List for a return visit. The main problem (yea, I know everyone should have our problems) is that there is so much we want to see, there are sure to be many unusual places ahead that we don’t even know about yet, and that we want to be home to enjoy the Maine summer which usually occurs on the 4th of July.

As we learned at the visitor’s center, Ebenezer Bryce, the Mormon settler that moved here with his wives built a cabin at the entrance to this strange and unusual canyon. When folks came to visit and asked about the strange formations behind his cabin he would just reply “Yep, it’s a hell of a place to lose a cow”!

Below are some shots we took of Bryce National Park:

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Leaving Bryce we continued on US-12 passing through Canyonville, over the Paria River and stopped at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument visitor’s center.

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Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument visitor’s center

This almost two million acre National Monument spans five different life zones from high desert in the south to evergreen forest to the north with an overall elevation gain of six thousand feet. It has the distinction of being the last spot in the continental US that was fully mapped. The monument is the first to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is pretty much left the way it has always been, primitive and undeveloped. There are however many miles of off road “jeep” trails that thread this entire area. I thought briefly
that it would be fun to explore some of these trails but was immediately vetoed. I guess the fella in the picture below didn’t have an intelligent wife (or wives) to keep him from doing something stupid.

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As we continued to climb on US-12 into the Dixie National Forest at around 7,600 feet we spotted an “Elk Crossing” sign. I’ve often wondered about those signs. Like…..How do the elk know to the cross there?  Or….. Back in the forest along the elk trails are there “Human Crossing” signs? The weighty thoughts of a retiree are never ending.

Topped out at 9,600 feet where there is still some snow in the shady areas and then began the downward plunge toward Torrey, Utah. We stopped at a very nice full service campground called Wonderland. And it was…..after a week of spit baths to conserve water, minimizing our battery loads and carefully watching our fresh water and holding tank capacities it was nice to take a break, do laundry and enjoy all the comforts of home.

Our next door camp neighbors were former Navy and so there was a lot of sea story swapping to do. In addition they are avid metal detector hobbyists. They have 3 high end detectors between them and often go treasure hunting around whatever campground they may be at; with the owner’s permission of course. I walked with them for a bit and in less than an hour they uncovered: 2 water pipe fittings, 7 tent stakes, about $4.00 in change (some of which was tarnished and appeared to come from the last century…..OK, so maybe that wasn’t that long ago), and a ring. They claim to have paid for their high end equipment with their discoveries in money alone besides all the other trinkets they uncovered. I asked them to look for my Lockheed stock as it had to be underground somewhere.

Behind the campground there was a farm with the customary barbed (bobbed) wire fence. This farmer must have originally been from Maine as he scored major “Yankee Points” for using what ever he had to extend the length of his fence and to conserve what must have been very valuable barbed (bobbed) wire.image021

Friday, May 1, 2009:


Off on US-24 toward Capital Reef National Park. Stopped at the visitors center for the usual orientation and ranger talk then drove the length of the park looking at the sights and checking out the campgrounds for the next trip. This park, although nice was not as dramatic as Zion or Bryce…..nor as crowded. The backcountry is reported to be a great backpacking destination however.

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Capital Reef National Park

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Stopped for the evening at Green River State Park in Green River, Utah. This is the home of the John Wesley Powell museum which we plan on touring tomorrow. Even though the park had no hook-ups the grounds were very nice and our spot was right on the green river, a classic kayak opportunity. Now why didn’t I bring my kayak….oh yea, it was frozen in place back in January. And I didn’t want to fuss with it on top of the truck for the entire trip. There have been however about 4 times that I could have enjoyed it.  Kit says I should “invest” in an inflatable kayak to take on these trips. Boy….do I love that girl!

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 36

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #36

Wednesday, April 29, 2009:

 Still in Zion NP, we could stay here for a month! It is cooler today, 51 degrees at 6:00 AM and a bit breezy. Kit wanted to ride the shuttle into the nearest town, Springdale, Utah to just oz around a bit and “people watch” for Mormons. So I decided to tackle one of the more adventures hiking trails in the park, The West Rim Trail. The main trail has a spur that leads up to the promontory shown below; called Angels Landing.

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I hopped on the shuttle to the trailhead and struck out atabout 9:00 AM. The trail climb’s 2400 feet in about 5 miles by way of a series of switchbacks called Walters Wiggles.

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Threaded through a high altitude slot called “Refrigerator Canyon”. It is very narrow with high vertical walls on either side.
The sun only shines on the canyon floor in this section for a few minutes a day which keeps it many degrees cooler then the rest of the trail.

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Decided to attempt the Angels Landing spur trail even though this sign seemed a bit ominous.

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The sketchier parts of the trail have large chains to muckle onto which gives you a tiny bit of reassurance.

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Even though I have a well known fear of heights and an innate love of staying alive I was doing OK until I came to this section about three quarters the way up Angels Landing Trail.

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Yep….the “trail” goes right up that knife edge. Even though it was a bit breezy, I attempted it anyway. Then I came to a point where a few hikers were descending the narrow trail and realized that someone is going to have to let go of the chain, stand a few feet from a 1,200 foot drop and let the others go by. Coincidentally at about the same time the knot in my stomach got larger, my heart rate increased and my legs began to quiver a bit. Discretion overcame hubris and I turned around and led the group lower to relative safer ground.

Once back at the Angels Landing-West Rim trail junction I sat for a while, contemplated my next move and weighed the possibility of attempting it again. As I sat there I noticed many others that probably had the same thought process going on…..and most of them were in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The only hikers that were attempting the trek were much younger. Figured there had to be a message in all that so I decided to continue on the West Rim Trail to the summit.

Here are a few views from the West Rim…..2,400 feet from the canyon floor. In the picture to the right you can see the shuttle bus road that I rode to the trailhead on.

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(Afterthoughts: As disappointed as I was in not making the top of Angels Landing I still feel weeks later that I made the right decision. Even now, as I type this my palms are sweating as the feeling of vulnerability on that exposed cliff comes flooding back into my consciousness.)

Another interesting personality I got to meet was this Buddhist Monk from “The Forest Temple” in Thailand. He was originally from Brem, Germany and was on a cultural exchange program sponsored by a California socialite. I hiked with him and his American guide far a while. What a fascinating character.

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All in all it was a great day to be outdoors on a classic National Park trail.

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Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 35

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #35

Sunday, April 26, 2009:

 We hated to leave Las Vegas and the great times we were having with Suzie, Kevin, Jack and Tucker so…..we, kind of got a late start. Heading East on I-15 we decided to pop into Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) to re-provision at the commissary, gas station and Base Exchange. After shopping we took a drive by the base campground to check it out and dump the sanitary tanks. It was a very nice facility and they had sites available, it was also getting late in the afternoon so…..we decided to stay. Kind of weird as the total trip mileage for the day was 13!

Monday, April 27, 2009: Left Nellis AFB early and continued northeast toward Utah. Kit experienced a rather nasty gash as a result of me goofing off outside the trailer which she mistook for some kind of an emergency. Suffice it to say that I was in the doghouse all morning…..kinda familiar surroundings to me but it does make it a challenge to drive the truck.

Pulled of the Interstate at US-17 toward southern Utah and the home for many Mormon folks whom we hoped to spot and photograph in their natural habitat. Not sure why any man would want more than one wife but apparently that’s the norm around these parts.

Since we had toured Grand Canyon National Park (NP) on a previous trip we decided to check out Zion NP this time. Pulling up to the west entrance I proudly announced that I was 62 and was in need of a “Golden Access Pass”. Paying my $10.00 and then filling out some paperwork resulted in my long awaited and much anticipated “Old Geezer Pass”, as my bruzin Dewey refers to it. Now, there are many things that are great about getting older but this has to be one of the best. It paid dividends in seconds as the normal fee to enter Zion NP is $25.00, and my fee was exactly…..zero, nada, zilch!

Found a really nice campsite in the Watchman Camping Area which had electric hook ups and was only $9.00 a night with my “Old Geezer Card” (OGC); we set up for an overnight stay. The site was very convenient; right across from the visitor’s center and a shuttle stop.

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Zion, as many other National Parks, is using propane powered buses to get folks around the park and to ferry hikers to the various trailheads. Being this early in the season the park was not crowded so the buses ran only ¼ full on most trips. They are very convenient, come by any given stop every 10 to 15 minutes, and they allow everyone to enjoy the views and to hear the park ranger explain some of the features and history of the park.

The friendly fellow below was at the campsite to greet us. Apparently there is a real mystery about this species of lizard and their distant cousins south of the Colorado. They are genetically similar but look quite different. The speculation is that when this whole area was one level land mass there was a large lizard colony. When the Colorado River began carving the Grand Canyon millions of years ago the colony was split; they then acclimated to their new terrain and environment. Today they are quite different in size, shape and color.   

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After a tour of the visitor’s center and talking to the park ranger, we took the shuttle up the canyon getting off at a few spots to walk around and take pictures. Now a caveat; these pictures do not come close to showing the color and grandeur of this fascinating National Park. One of the interesting things we learned in the visitor’s center is that Zion is the middle “step” in the Grand Staircase. Bryce NP is the upper “step” and Grand Canyon NP is the lower “step”. Put another way…..The lower elevation of Bryce NP is the upper elevation of Zion NP and the lower elevation of Zion NP is the upper elevation of Grand Canyon NP. Who knew? All three have very different terrain, geological topography and their own individual beauty. Here are a few shots of scenery along the canyon road.

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Later in the day we rode the shuttle to the end of the line and hiked a few more miles up into the canyon on the Narrows Trail. The trail into the very upper reaches of the canyon was closed due to high and swift water from this seasons snow melt. After the river subsides it is possible to hike into the upper canyon and explore the many slots in the area.  Apparently there are areas where the canyon walls are hundreds of feet tall and one can reach out their arms and touch both sides…..now that’s a slot canyon.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009:

Woke to temperatures in the mid sixties and sunny skies. We are still in Zion…..decided to stay for a couple more days because it is not possible to see all that we want to see in one day. Ah…..the advantages of not having a definite schedule or itinerary. We did have to move to the neighboring South Campground which had no hook-ups but was more wooded and actually more to our liking. Still scored a 50% discount with my OGC…..only $8.00 per night!

There is one multi use trail called the Pa’rus Trail in Zion and it is paved. However it was a nice bike ride along the valley floor with many excellent picture taking opportunities. I rode it all three days we were in the park at various times of the day, and my personal favorite time was early in the morning.

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That afternoon we hung around the camp site and visited with fellow campers. One of which had an incredible 1950 Silver Streak that they had restored themselves. The couple, Jim and Patty from Orcas Island, Washington had an interesting history of living on a 65 foot sailboat in Alaska for many years, where Jim was a contract Bush Pilot, before moving to Washington. They invited us into their trailer which was just as shiny on the inside and decorated in a tropical theme. The unit is 18 feet long, weighs 2500 pounds and they pull it with a 4 cylinder Toyota pickup. How about that…..almost sixty years ago they had the lightweight trailer thing figured out. He also has a 1950 Ford pick up at home that he uses to tow locally.

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Also noted many rental motorhomes and noticed most were driven by Europeans. We met families from Germany, Holland and Sweden. Some were pretty new to the workings of an RV so I helped where I could…..fortunately they all spoke very good English. When they found out we were from Maine almost all of them exclaimed: “ah….Bar Harbor?”

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 34

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal Issue #34

April 21 through April 25, 2009:

Back in Las Vegas, and we are having a blast this time as well. Able to spend some more quality time with our youngest, Suzie and her husband Kevin and lots of play time with our two youngest grandsons, Jack and Tucker.

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Jack

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Tucker

The grand kids now think that we do not own a home but live in the trailer full time. They love the idea so we didn’t see any need to correct them. Jack even camped out with us in the trailer which was once again parked in his parent’s dooryard. He slept through the night and it was fun seeing him wake up on the little bed that was converted from the dinette table. His little brother wasn’t quite ready to camp out yet but he did join us for breakfast which featured healthy vegetables.

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Jack and Tucker in the Trailer

Yea, those are potato chips the boys are having for breakfast…..they are vegetables, right?

All this was going on under the watchful eye of Guma from her normal morning position.

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Guma with her Dell Mini 9 Netbook

Oh yea, Kit also took possession in Las Vegas of a long awaited, brand new, bright pink, Netbook. She ordered this new toy about a month ago from Dell and had it delivered to the kids’ house in Las Vegas so Kevin could check it out, remove all the clog-ware and load it with all the nifty applications only a computer expert would know about. The machine is pretty neat; inexpensive, solid state memory, light and small with a bright 9 inch screen. Basically nothing real fancy but a great tool for e-mail reading and web surfing. Kit is in Web-head heaven! And now, since I inherited the old laptop, I can get to the chronicling of our travels quicker…..or not.

We celebrated Suzie’s 38th birthday by going out to a really nice Brazilian Steak House. The food was plentiful and tasted incredible. The wait staff (called gauchos) kept filling your plate with an unbelievable variety of meats until you either became full or just needed to take a breather, at which time you turned a little token on your table over to reveal a red symbol which meant stop. Then after a while if you wanted some more, the token was turned over once again to reveal a green symbol and the gauchos made a bee line for your table and filled everyone’s plate. The other parts of the meal were displayed in an incredible 60 item salad bar where you could select whatever you liked; only the selections of meat were brought to the table to choose from. I have never experienced anything like it…..and I am somewhat of a professional eater!

 

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Dinner at Texas de Brazil
Suzie's Birthday Cake

Suzie's Birthday Cake

Everyone had a great time and after we waddled out of the restaurant Kevin and Suzie went home and we decided to walk the meal off by strolling around the Town Square, a really nice shopping area that looks like, well….a traditional old time town square.

While in town this week, Kevin set us up with a website and started posting all our past Travel Journals, including the ones from the Gofetchit Trip last fall. The site looks incredible and will give us a place on the web to archive all our travel journals for future retrieval and for anyone who has an interest, and may have missed the earlier journals from this trip, to be able to go back and read them. Kevin says it will be a lot easier for folks to read the journals on portable devices like his I-phone. When the site is fully ready for prime time I will send the URL thingie. Thanks Kevin for setting this all up and volunteering to be our Web Master person!

Another celebration was held as Tucker celebrated his second birthday on Saturday. Kinda neat, Tucker William Owens (TWO) turned two years old. We had a family party for him and he had great fun opening all his gifts. His favorite seemed to be the toy lawn mower which made lots of noise. Now, he can help dad keep the lawn in order. As you may recall, Jack is fully into The Superfriends but Tucker is still in transition so the party theme was half Elmo and half Spiderman; made for some unique and interesting decorations.

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Tucker's Two-year Birthday Cake

Can you tell what color the birthday cake frosting was?

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Since Kevin works on the Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM Grand he was able to obtain two tickets to the Cirque show “Love” at the Mirage for us.

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Other than visiting with family this show was the highlight of our stay in Las Vegas…..it was incredible! The score was a custom mixing of Beatle’s music done by Sir George Martin and his son Giles. Generally a stage show has a live band but music for this show was an incredible mix of original Beatles recordings from the Abby Road studios, some of which has never been heard publicly before. This unbelievable soundtrack provided the perfect accompaniment to the zany Cirque performance. To ensure a quality theater experience, a custom theater in the round was constructed with over 2000 seats containing over 6000 speakers; each seat had two speakers imbedded in the seat back at ear level and one in the back of the seat directly in front. Every seat in the place had the same high fidelity sound! Sergeant Pepper never sounded, or looked so good! Being Beatles fans as far back as the early 60’s, we really enjoyed this show and it appeared the sold out house did as well. If you get to Las Vegas this is a must see.

Here is another example of where one can meet the most interesting people in the most unusual locations. We were seated at the show next to a very nice younger couple from Nashville Tennessee. While waiting for the show to start we struck up a conversation and come to find out the fella was a published author with 40+ books to his credit. His name was Ken Abraham and primarily writes (or co-writes) biographies. His latest book to be released in June is on Buzz Aldrin. His other works include biographies of George Forman, Lisa Beamer, Chuck Norris and Payne Stewart. He was quite an interesting person to talk to.

After the show and not wanting the night to end we took a stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard to do some people watching and get a late night snack. 

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The whole evening was perfect…..Thanks Kevin!

Well, we leave soon to continue heading home so here are a few other unapologetic pictures of our two adorable Las Vegas Kiddles:

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And here we are trying to surreptitiously sneak them into the truck so they can come with us.

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Bye everyone!
Had a great time…..see you next winter! Or…..maybe in Maine this summer???

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 33

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #33

Sunday, April 19, 2009:  

Well it happened, this morning it is 36 degrees and at this very moment it is 43 degrees back home in Brunswick! Of course we are currently at 6300 feet, kind of like being on top of Kathadin…..where I bet it’s colder than either place.

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This morning we took a walk around the campground and adjacent park. Returning to the trailer we enjoyed a great breakfast of eggs and chorizo, broke camp, and headed out. As we were pulling out of the campground we saw a gray fox dart across the road and into the woods; too quick to snap a photo however.

Pulled the rig onto US-260 heading west into the Sitgreaves Forest where we immediately came upon a “Watch for Elk” sign. Now…..you know, I thought I heard an elk bugling last night…..but then again it might have been Kit.

We headed for Overgaard, Arizona to search for the Lazy L RV Park where Mom and Dean used to spend so many enjoyable summers. We found the park but it was not open for the season yet. However the managers, Pat and Debbie let us poke around. We found mom’s former trailer which was in pretty good shape and on a great site. Talked to Pat and Debbie a bit and they both commented on how the missed having Dean and mom at the Lazy L.

Ironically the trailer is a Nomad, the same brand and size Kit and I had about 20 years ago…..you remember, the one I put on it’s roof going to a fishing trip up in northern Maine.

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We moved onto I-40 heading west in order to locate Winslow, Arizona. I had this uncontrollable urge to stand on a corner in that town that had to be satisfied. And to sweeten the moment, there was a flat bed Ford at that same corner as well…..I had thought I’d died and gone to heaven!

Such a fine sight to see

And such a fine sight to see.

It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me.

It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me.

 From Winslow we headed south on US-87 toward Cottonwood. As we topped out at 7500 feet elevation in the Coconino National Forest we encountered…..snow! However most of it was on the north facing hillsides and in amongst the trees. The temperature was 68 degrees.

Near Cottonwood we kept seeing references to the famous writer Zane Gray. Come to find out he had a cabin up on the Mogollon Rim that he used as a retreat from his digs in California. In fact the unusual topography of this area influenced one of his most famous quotes:

“The so-called civilization of man and his works shall perish from the earth, while the shifting sands, the red looming walls, the purple sage, and the towering monuments show no perceptible change.”

That was written in the 1930’s and still true of this area today.

Dropping down into Camp Verde at 3300 feet we were on the look out for a place to camp. And what do you know; in keeping with the weird campground names theme, we came upon “Dead Horse Ranch State Park”. Now this name has a story behind it as well; it is said that a horse died here some years ago. I guess there isn’t very much else exciting happening around these parts. The campground was very nice and we had a great spot.

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There were some multi use trails in the park that I explored on my bike. One went along the Verde River for a couple of miles and the biggest trail hazards were road apples left behind (no pun intended) by the equestrian folks that had passed ahead of me.

As I biked back to camp I passed the large group camping area and noticed quite a commotion going on. So being the nosy person that I am I rode down and talked to one of the participants. Apparently there was a “Return of the Elders” festival going on sponsored by some group called, The Institute for Cultural Awareness. As the young women put it: “Indigenous elders and future wisdom keepers are gathering to represent the voice of Mother Earth”. She asked if I would like to attend…..for $100.00!!!!! I politely declined and rode off. You know…..I didn’t see one “elder” in the whole place, just a bunch of hippie chicks. I guess the elders were too smart to pay a hundred bucks to sit in the weeds and talk.

Monday, April 20, 2009: Now the quickest (but as it turned out not the smartest) way to get from Camp Verde to Prescott, Arizona and then to points northwest is by taking US-89A through the town of Jerome, which sits at 5800 feet on the side of Mingus Mountain.

As we ascended the mountain toward Jerome we encountered steep grades, narrow roads and 10 MPH hairpin turns. I was having a blast…..Kit was as white as a ghost and had a death grip on the grab bars.

Entering Jerome we threaded our way back and forth through town, zigzagging along the main thoroughfare. It appears to be somewhat of an artist colony and filled with aging hippies.

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Leaving town we continued to climb up switchbacks until we reached 7000 feet where just as quickly we headed down encountering the same type of roads and grades. This is probably the third time I have had the familiar sensation of topping out on a mountain, not being able to see ahead because of the steep angle of the truck and then slowly rolling over the apex to see a steep down grade. I finally figured it out….it is the same sensation one feels in a roller coaster car as it peaks the first huge hill that sets up the rest of the ride. Not sure the highway planners gave thought to trucks pulling trailers when the laid this road down. We made it back to 3000 foot and straight level roads without a scratch however. The trip up and over was a bit unnerving but I guess that is the price you pay to travel the back roads. We stopped for coffee in Prescott and headed north to once again hook up the more sane folks on I-40.

Proving you meet the nicest folks in the most unusual places Kit and I had to make a pit stop and also get something for lunch. We pulled off the highway at the Jolly Road exit and stopped in a large field near a horse pasture. There was a car already there and as we climbed out of the truck they came over to meet us. Apparently the couple, Pat and Candace from Nova Scotia had noticed our rig back in Prescott and commented to each other that if they get into RV’ing that was the truck and trailer they would like to own. We spent about an hour showing them the trailer and sharing our personal histories. As they continued on their travels we agreed that when we get back to Maine and they to Nova Scotia we will have to plan a reunion.

Pulled off the interstate and onto US-68 toward Bullhead City, AZ/ Laughlin NV and then on US-163 west to US-95 north and on into Las Vegas.

We arrived late afternoon to the excited greetings of Jack and Tucker, who were standing watch for us at the front window!

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 32

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #32

Saturday, April 18, 2009:

Our last night in Tucson we sat up on the Doobie RV Resort rooftop deck and enjoyed this interesting sunrise and cloud formation…..I think it means we need to head out.

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This morning there was a large bag of freshly picked grapefruit and lemons hanging on our door courtesy of the man in the picture below. His name is Manual “Manny” Velez, a neighbor of Dewey and Bea’s who we became friends with as well. Manny is originally from Magdalena, Mexico and a retired school teacher. He has cultivated a beautifully landscaped yard with lots of citrus trees among the native plants.

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Manual “Manny” Velez

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We had a grapefruit for breakfast and it was unbelievably sweet, no need for sugar or honey to mask the usual tartness.

 Manny’s brother, Gilbert Velez is an accomplished Mariachi musician and Manny gave us a copy of his recorded CD, “International Mariachi America” which we plan on enjoying as we head north out of Mexican Music radio range. Oh yea….if you have any inclination of making fun of the traditional Mariachi costume, Gilbert is also a 6th degree black belt in karate.

So it’s…..On The Road Again…..nice song, it just keeps playing in my head whenever we head out in a new direction. Well, at least that song is better then the voices I usually hear, some of which try and persuade me to do crazy things. We had a nice time in Arizona but it is now time to officially start meandering home. We will make a stop in Las Vegas to see the kids and from there our route will be basically northeast.

We took I-10 to get away from the city and then got on US-87 through Coolidge and Florence. Drove by a lot of irrigated fields planted with crops and through many small farming towns. We didn’t stop in Florence this time but will spend a day poking around this interesting town on a future trip. We hopped
on US-287 and then US-60 toward Superior.

As we continued on US-60 climbing steadily into the Tonto National Forest we encountered some very steep grades. Just before the 4000 foot elevation mark and after passing through the Queen Creek Tunnel, we pulled over at a scenic overlook to take pictures and let faster motorists behind us pass by.

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As I was out poking around and snapping pictures, the truck started to steam and the telltale odor of antifreeze was evident. Kit noticed the steam first and thought it might be smoke and became quiet alarmed. After calming her down I popped the hood and discovered the lower hose from the radiator overflow into the overflow tank had come loose and the boiling radiator dumped about two gallons of coolant onto the ground. The nice thing about hauling a trailer is that you have immediate access to 30 gallons of water, so when the engine cooled down, I reattached the hose, tightened the clamp, filled the tank and we were off once again.

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Now climbing to the 5000 foot level, and keeping a wary eye on the engine and transmission temperature gauges, we hit the self proclaimed “Top of The World” point at 5300 feet. I guess the local folks have never heard of Mount Everest.  Anyway, descending on a steep and winding road down into Salt River Canyon we kept seeing yellow diamond shaped signs that stated “Watch for Falling Rock”. Sure enough we came around a bend and there he was! An Apache Indian selling native jewelry along side the road. I bought Kit a neat Goldstone and Hematite necklace from the Apache Chief, Falling Rock.

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Oh by the way, the Goldstone was in the shape of a turtle, the Indian symbol for longevity. I guess 44 years of marriage is pretty long so I thought it was appropriate. Of course another meaning of the turtle symbol could be that we are moving slowly and methodically through this journey while pulling our home along…..your choice.

Ascending once again onto the Mogollon Rim we noticed a decrease in temperature and an increase in evergreens. We stopped at Show Low (elevation 6331) for gas and groceries and since it was getting late started to poke around for a campground. Traveling down US-260 toward Overgaard, we spotted a sign that had our name written all over it: “Fools Hollow State Park and Campground”. Pulling off we were delighted to find available sites, considering it was a very nice weekend. We chose a great wooded site with full hook-ups.

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Talking to the campground host we learned that this facility was rated as the top state park in Arizona and in the top five state parks nationwide. A walk around shows the reason why, it was incredible. And oh, about the name…..apparently many years ago a newcomer to town homesteaded this hollow and started a small farm. The locals called him a fool for trying to survive at the bottom of a hollow. As it turned out that land bordering the river was very fertile and the newcomer prospered.

The story doesn’t end there however, the local government decided to dam the river and create an impoundment for a municipal water supply.  They forced the newcomer off the land, built an earthen dam and created a lake. A short time later, a sink hole opened and drained the lake…..so they filled the hole with tons of concrete and the lake rose once again. Another sink hole drained the lake a second time. This went on for another three tries until the lake finally held. Makes one wonder who the fool really was.

I took a lakeside stroll and noticed a number of fishingpiers jutting out into the water. In addition there are about a half dozen Ramada’s (kind of like picnic shelters) with their own parking, rest room, tables and benches, built in gas grill area and a deep sink with hot and cold water. I would have to agree with the outfit that grades state parks…..this is definitely one of the nicest parks we have seen.

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Tomorrow we continue west toward one of Bill’s Life (Bucket) List goals…..stay tuned.

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 31

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #31

 

April 5 through April 18, 2009, Two Weeks in Tucson:

Spent the final visit to Tucson spending time with mom, Dan, Dewey and Bea…..and the dogs; Sammy, Nile and Max.

Took mom out shopping and to lunch a few times which she thoroughly enjoyed. In addition, we finished up some family business and took a few days to see more of this fascinating city.

I’m beginning to learn that there are two ways one can search out the truly authentic Mexican restaurants in Tucson favored by the locals. First, get cozy with a Tucson resident and then trick them into divulging their favorite places; did that and it worked great. And second, go undercover as a Chicano, walk into the Barrios and just blend in…..which is what we did as well?

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Then once accepted as a local, solidify that honor by requesting a uniquely Mexican song from the resident wandering Mariachi’s. I requested “Margaretville”. They were impressed!

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Then finally order the national drink by the pitcher being sure to request the Casa Blend.

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Dewey and Bea

The guy above is on his second pitcher…..and he’s our designated driver!!! Made it home safely and had a great time…..thanks Dewey and Bea.

Dewey and Bea hosted a fantastic food and drink get together for us and their friends which we thoroughly enjoyed. The day was Tucson perfect and the food was outstanding. Mom and Dan were able to attend as well. It was nice to meet some of their friends from the area.

We received an interesting call today from our grandson, Joe back in Maine. He was asking all sorts of questions about the 1939 Chevy we have had stored in our garage for years. This was a car that I inherited from my brother Don when he passed away. It was up in Anchorage Alaska, so I had it shipped down to Seattle then Kit and I went to pick it up with a flat bed trailer towed behind our 1980 Blazer. Lots of stories about that trip…..but this journal is about this trip so I will continue. As it turns out Joe and his buddies with the help of an uncle or two were able to get the car out of the garage, fixed up and running. Pretty industrious for a bunch of 16 year olds…..and a great learning experience in automotive mechanics.

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On Easter Sunday Kit and I took Mom to Catholic mass. She really enjoyed being able to attend her parish service and receive communion. And in case you were wondering…..the roof did not fall in when I entered the church. But I stood in back just in case. Actually I had been sitting with Mom and Kit in the handicapped section but the church filled to standing room only so I relinquished my seat top an older women….made some major mom-points with that move.

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On Good Friday, Mom invited us to an Easter picnic to be held at a local park and sponsored by her Adult Day Care group, Handmaker’s. It was a great day with food, games and live music. Mom, Kit and I had a great time.

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Kit and I took a day to visit Davis Monthan Air Force Base. We stopped at the Base Exchange, the Commissary and then drove around to see if we could find the fabled “Boneyard”. Being in the dry desert and that Tucson has very low pollution or acid rain the military stores most of their obsolete, aged or just surplus aircraft here. This base is huge and I wasn’t sure if we could find it or how close we could get even if we could. But after driving for some time we came upon this:

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And that is just a sampling…..there is literally hundreds of airplanes parked on the desert floor as far as the eye can see. Quite a sight, and kind of sad…..just sitting and waiting until their country needs them again.

The final week we were in Tucson, Dewey and Bea departed on a travel adventure of their own. They were heading east to see the sights and visit family and friends.

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In their absence we were responsible for the dogs, Sammy, Nile and Max. An added delight was watching their Anniversary cactus bloom.

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Next stop…..Las Vegas and a return visit with Suzie, Kevin, Jack and Tucker.

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit