Tuesday, April 23, 2019

My Life is Gritty

We are beach camping again! Lone Rock Beach Campground is located on beautiful Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. It’s an interesting campground. There are no designated campsites, you just pick a spot on the beach or in the dunes and call it home. Right now the lake is low so there are acres of beachfront property and we have staked our claim to a front row seat. For $14 a night, the National Park Service provides a dump station, potable water, garbage dumpsters, and vault toilets. Oh, and water access and scenery to die for. I consider that a bargain!
The lone rock at Lone Rock Beach.  :)

We pulled in on Wednesday, 4/17 (thanks to all my peeps who caught me time traveling in the last blog post) and snagged a spot on the beach above the lake. The area where you can camp is HUGE. I’m always a little nervous about running the rig off road, especially on a surface as treacherous as sand. We scouted first in the Acadia since there were several well-traveled paths from the paved parking area to the beach, but some were definitely more big-rig friendly than others. We've been here several days now and watching people get stuck in the sand has become daily entertainment - everything from motorhomes to jeeps! Folks are friendly and the guys with the monster 4WD pickup trucks usually lend a hand. Rog even helped one van rental get unstuck. 

Off road and onto the beach!

Home is where you park it. 

The temps have been in the 70's and 80's - perfect! As Rog sat relaxing on the patio he sighed and said, "This is what we left Seattle for." In addition to lots of water play with Riley, our first priority of course, this is another area with a million things to see and do. You’re probably going to get multiple blog posts since there is no way I can cram all the pictures I want to share into one post. 

Speaking of water play, the beach has some shallow areas but directly in front of our site it drops off sharply. Riley loves to chase his ball into the water, but he isn’t much for swimming after it if it gets too far out. The lake is a frigid 54°, and Rog swam nearly to the buoys on a ball retrieval mission while Riley waited patiently on shore. So it seems Riley does understand “fetch”, he’s just confused about who should be doing it. Lol.

Riley was here. 

Rog and Riley play fetch. Not sure this is how it's supposed to work. Lol.

Riley waiting patiently for his ball. 

We’ve enjoyed watching the light change on the bluffs and mesas around the lake. We’ve had some spectacular golden hours, moonrises, sunsets and sunrises. Disconnect from the ever-present screens and mother nature steps in to awe and entertain you.

Golden hour with a full moon rising.

A huge flock of pelicans comes in at dusk.

Moonlight reflected on the lake.

Beautiful night for a campfire!

On Thursday, we explored the nearby town of Page and stopped in at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center adjacent to the Glen Canyon Dam. The dam is 710 feet tall, 1,560 feet across, and 25 feet wide at the top. Preparation for construction began in 1956, 4,901 cubic yards of concrete was poured over three years, and the dam was completed in 1966. Rog likes to learn about the history of local figures and the places we visit – there is so much that we never learned in school and a lot that we did that is either extremely biased or completely misleading. Right now Rog is reading about the the history of the water wars in the west, fascinating stuff.

Dam. That's big!

The Carl Hayden Visitor Center is perched above the dam.

Views above and below the dam.

Horseshoe Bend is another favorite tourist stop just a few miles from our campsite. The Colorado river forms a 270° curve in an entrenched meander in Glen Canyon. Looking down from the view point, the water was a gorgeous clear aquamarine. Those tiny boats pulled up on the beach are part of the Glen Canyon float trip. Spoiler alert, guess what we’ll be doing. 😊

Horseshoe Bend.

The sinuous Colorado. 

Intricate cairns dot the viewing area.

Saturday, 4/20, was an interesting day. The weather has been fickle, but what could go wrong on a day that started off with a stunning sunrise like this?

Sunrise over Lake Powell.

We loaded Riley up and set out to explore. Our first stop was the Toadstool hike. Toadstools form when softer rock erodes leaving a spire with a boulder perched on top. The hike was only a mile or so long, but it was mostly in the sun. Riley showed his lack of enthusiasm by laying down wherever he found some shade and only moving reluctantly when we made him.


Not just toadstools, there were lots of cool erosion patterns in the stone.

Riley's hike for the day - he said one was enough.

We had planned to do another 2-mile hike to the Nautilus formation and stopped by the visitor’s center to get some additional information. We mentioned Riley’s preference for water hikes and they suggested White House Canyon where he could play in the Paria River. We went there first and, given the hangdog looks we were getting, gave up on the Nautilus hike. Compromises must be made to keep everyone happy.

The Paria River - looks more like a muddy creek to me!

Interesting colors and swirls.

Different sandstone formations in White House Canyon- white rock instead of red.

Instead we opted for a drive down Cottonwood Road – a gravel road that winds through a portion of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Riley got to ride in the air-conditioned car and we got to see some new country. We found a few boondocking spots, but nothing that would tempt us to leave the lake.

Mesa with badlands formations.

Grand Staircase Escalate has amazingly diverse geology.

It was getting past lunchtime, so we stopped under a huge old cottonwood to have a snack and stretch our legs. We’d noticed range cows in the area but didn’t give it a second thought. Apparently, lunch at the cottonwood was by invitation only and we were clearly not on the guest list. At first the white-faced cow just gave us the stink eye. Then he and his buddy started moving in our direction. No worries, I said, they don’t have horns. Ahem. No sooner had I said that than they were joined by their longhorn buddy. Really?  The three of them just kept getting closer. Then they’d stop and stare. Then walk a little closer. Riley was concentrating so hard on our lunch, he was totally oblivious. By then they were only about 30 feet away and still moving closer. Maybe they were just curious, but that was too much for me – all I could imagine was a combined half ton of angry cow charging. It probably didn’t help that we were having beef jerky for lunch. Lol. We tried honking the car horn to scare them off, but that only caught the attention of several more cows. Rog finally got them to back off by waving a blanket and shouting. That lunch spot won’t be getting a positive Yelp review. 😊

The gang is moving in. 

After lunch we headed back to the RV, only to find that we’d missed a pretty spectacular wind storm.  Ah, the winds…. let’s talk about those. This is a beach. There is sand. The wind blows the sand. The sand gets into EVERYTHING. Seriously. EVERY THING. Twice the wind has whipped so hard the sand infiltrated our closed windows. This time it tore our Magnashade sun screen off the windshield which is held in place by extremely strong rare earth magnets, it’s never even budged before! We had little drifts of sand inside the coach and it buried our patio mat. I spent a solid hour vacuuming, which had its own set of challenges. The air is so dry and full of static that I kept getting shocked when I ran the sweeper over the carpet. It was so bad I was convinced I had a short in the vacuum cleaner! Wow, who knew vacuuming should qualify for hazardous duty pay.

What a difference an hour can make when the wind kicks up!

Check out the tiny rocks suspended in midair after the winds scoured the beach.

Despite being accosted by cows and the crazy winds, we are loving the Lake Powell area. We decided to add a few more days to our stay and signed up for three tours – Lower Antelope Canyon, the half-day Glen Canyon Float, and a boat trip to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. More on those to come!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Flagstaff, Sunset Crater, and Wupatki Pueblos

Our plan was to spend two nights in Flagstaff at a private RV park to clean up and restock after 10 days boondocking. By the way, I’ve decided if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Henceforth, all RV décor will be color matched to Riley to hide his shedding or an abstract pattern to hide drool stains. What do you think? Lol. 

Color coordinated!

We checked into Greer’s Pine Shadow Resort on Friday, 4/12. It was nice having full hookups again, but what we really loved was that the RV park backed up to the Coconino National Forest. We could duck through the back gate and access miles of trails. It was lovely walking under the tall pines with hardly a cactus to be found. Riley quickly figured out the route to the gate and would drag us in that direction every time we took him out for walkies.  

Coconino NF trail system right out the back gate.

Rocky peaks above the trail.

Snow on the peaks!
Did I mention it was snowing when we arrived at Flagstaff?!  Luckily, Riley couldn't make it stick. :)

Albert's tassel-eared squirrel. Love the fancy hairdo. 

We found so much we wanted to do in the area that we extended our stay to five days.  Rog found a new tool to find fun things to do. In Google maps, he hit “Explore Nearby” and “Events” and up popped the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, a fundraiser for the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project. Several hours of conservation themed films (including a hilarious five-minute short called March of the Newts, you can find it online), a silent auction, and craft beer - all for a good cause. That sounded right up our alley!

A fun evening for a worthy cause.

We did walkabout in Old Town Flagstaff and spent an evening at the Lowell Observatory (We ended up with tickets from the silent auction.) The Observatory was interesting, but the weather did not cooperate – cloudy with a light drizzle – so we didn’t get to do any stargazing through the extremely cool vintage Clark telescope. Built in 1896, it was instrumental in providing the first evidence that the universe is expanding. It’s still in operation today, although it's now used exclusively for public education.

The Clark telescope is housed in the Lowell observatory. 

Flagstaff shots.

Beautiful scenery outside town too.

On Tuesday, 4/16, we visited two national monuments. The first was Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Erupting between 1040 and 1100, Sunset crater is the youngest volcano in the Flagstaff area. Artifacts from native tribes living in the area at the time of the eruption helped to establish the date. While much of the volcanic rock is a dull black or gray, the cinders atop the 1000-foot-tall Sunset Crater are red and yellow inspiring the crater’s name. We stopped at several viewpoints and walked the Lava Flow Trail along the base of the crater. Trails up the cinder cone were causing erosion so you can no longer climb to the top.

Sunset Crater.

Lichen breaks down the volcanic rock into soil.

Lava Flow trail.

A colorful spatter cone.

Lava flow patterns in the rock.

A bright red cinder cone.

Another of the 600 volcanic cones in the area.

Wupatki National Monument is about 35 miles away and preserves several pueblo ruins. The largest was a multi-story high-rise with over 100 rooms, a community meeting area and a ball court! I did not know that playing ball was an important part of early tribal social life, over 200 ball courts have been found in Arizona alone. The inhabitants relied on farming and trade. Their culture and customs seem to blend different tribal traditions and items found were traded from tribes as far away as Mexico and possibly Central America.

Wupatki pueblo.

The builders incorporated existing boulders and outcroppings into their design.

Ball game anyone??

Rog reads from the detailed trail guide.

I’ll finish with a few shots of our handsome boy. I spent some time playing with filters, not much else I can do on the computer since we’re out of data and the wifi at the RV park was totally worthless. Sigh.

Filters are fun, what a handsome boy!

This reminds me of the old tin-type photos. 

I am excited about our next destination, if all goes according to plan we’ll be camping on the beach at Lake Powell!