Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Idaho at Last!

We had a rough start this morning --or should I say NON-start? We had the jacks up, the slides in, the satellites dish down and were ready to go. I went outside to do my usual check of the signal and brake lights while Forry started Auntie Violet. Only she didn't start! It seemed a bit strange as we had had power to bring the slides in and the jacks up...?

Forry put the charger on. We'd get a brief jolt of juice, but not enough to turn the engine over. Checked the manual; couldn't figure it out. Called Jim, the foreman at Uhlmann's RV, he suggested just turning everything off for a bit and then trying to restart it. Nothing! Beginning to wonder if we were going to have to be towed to --- where? Snowville is a long way from ANYWHERE!

Finally Forry noticed that the bolts on the battery terminals appeared to be loose. He tightened three loose ones and VOILA, Auntie Violet started right up!

We followed Interstate 84 north and west into Idaho. We passed over the flooding Snake River several times:

It was nice to descend out of the mountain valleys and high plateaus into some lower altitudes and begin to see some farmland.

We stopped at the Flying J just outside of Boise. Diesel is higher here in Idaho. We filled with 40.508 gallons at $4.159 per gallon. That's eight cents a gallon more than when we filled in Utah.

We are settled in for the next couple of nights at Garrity RV Camp in Nampa. We've got some errands to run tomorrow and then will meet up with Daughter Dawn's in-laws at Sizzler in the evening for dinner.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Nephi to Snowville -- SNOW!

Today it was Interstate 15 north up to the Y where we took West Interstate 84. We stopped at the Flying J in Springville, Utah and took on 56.695 gallons of diesel at $4.07 per gallon. Nice to see the diesel prices coming down a little bit at least!

Our camp the last two days was at the foot of 11,928 foot Mount Nebo. Then our route took us through the valley along the Nebo Range then the Wasatch Range. The rain we got at OK RV over the weekend blanketed the mountains with snow.

I don't know how low the snow level came, but at least it wasn't down to the level of the interstate. We were in and out of occasional rain showers all day, but no snow. Psychologically, it was a chilly drive seeing all of that fresh snow. I was thinking that the high 90s in Phoenix was sounding much better than continuing to head north...

We are spending the night at Lottie-Dell RV Camp in Snowville, Utah. We stayed here on our way north last year. It is an interesting place -- there is no one in the office. Prices (with Escapee discount) are posted on the wall. There are registration forms that you fill out; put them in one of the stack of envelopes with your cash or check; and insert the envelope through a slot in the wall. Strictly the honor system! Then you go pick out a site and get yourself parked.

Shortly after we had gotten settled a fast-moving thunderstorm came through. The thunder was close enough and loud enough to make me jump. It rained and hailed furiously for a few moments, then the sun came out again. Now it is a lovely evening.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Turn to Rant...?

My friend Leslie got up on her soap box today to vent about little kids not being slathered with sunscreen and being allowed to get sun-burned, so now it's my turn.

I've gotten more and more annoyed this week by chatter -- I don't know how many times I've wanted to turn around and just shout "Shut Up Already!"

It started with a bus load of twenty or so tourists. I'm not sure where they were from, but I think one of the Scandinavian countries. We crossed their path off and on all day when we were at Arches. They were like a bunch of chattering magpies. It started in the gift shop where they were so loud, I couldn't even understand what the clerk was saying. As the day went on, they seemed to show up at every viewpoint and arch at the same time we did. Such awesome sights, but they sure weren't struck speechless.

But even they were out done by the two ladies loudly discussing why a third lady was so selfish about sharing her recipes -- and how they were sure she left something out when she did! All this while overlooking one of the most beautiful canyons I've ever seen.

Then there was the couple who decided that the parking area was the perfect place to continue their discussion of each other's heinous faults and failures. They were loud enough and nasty enough that I was sure one of them was going to drive off and leave the other...

And later near one of the arches, there was the family with three cute teenagers who were posing on top of a large boulder while their father took pictures. The whole time, the mother was screeching at the top of her lungs at the daughter that "she better not be getting her clothes dirty!" Then on and on, ad nauseum, about how "nobody appreciated all the work she did to keep them looking decent!"

It is a holiday weekend and the OK RV Park in Moab was full of both RVs as well as tents. I'm not sure if a lot of those people in their tents really realize that the walls of their tents are just made of cloth. There were tents across the road from where Auntie Violet was parked and it was so warm we had all of the windows open. I think the woman in one of the tents would have been mortified to know that what she was saying to her kids could be heard by everyone.

When I write this stuff down, it seems petty. I feel a bit ashamed to even think this way. But, is it too much to ask for people to open their eyes and enjoy God's beautiful creation QUIETLY?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

From Moab to Nephi, Utah

This morning we followed Highway 191 north to Interstate 70 and then headed west. Our route took us through the incredible San Rafael Reef, a huge geologic upthrust that extends for miles.

The colors of Utah's highways have to be seen to be believed --

This Navajo lady, Lora Haskey, was at Ghost View Area selling Juniper Bead jewelry --

She also had various items of pottery laid out for sale --

Every mile seemed have another interesting, intriguing rock formation to display --

At Salina we turned north onto Highway 50, following it up to where it joined Interstate 15 which took us through a wide valley and Scopio Lake.

We followed the valley north to the town of Nephi and High Country RV Camp where we have settled in for the next couple of nights.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Canyonlands National Park

While the Toad was at Arches Auto Repair on Wednesday, we took the rental car to Canyonlands National Park which is about 30 miles from Moab.

Canyonlands reminded me a great deal of Bryce Canyon. You sort of drive around the area and look down into the incredible canyons.

It is possible if you have the time (two days) and four-wheel drive, to take the hundred mile or so dirt road, the White Rim Trail, that follows around the rim below.

The canyons in the park are creations of the Green and Colorado Rivers, which divide the part into three distinct sections. The part we visited is called 'Islands in the Sky.'

Toad Goes to the Emergency Room!

When we were driving down into the canyons of Arches National Park on Wednesday, we noticed a strange odor. It didn't quite smell like over-heated brakes (though we smelled that on several other vehicles!). We kept checking, but couldn't quite identify if the occasional whiff we got was coming from the Toad or another rig...
When we got back to OK RV Park, Forry opened the hood and we could see that the air conditioner clutch was burnt! I checked the Yellow Pages on my iPhone and found a repair shop with multiple stars. Thursday morning we went to Arches Repair Center, Inc. in Moab, Utah, about six miles from the RV Park. The owner, Patrick Rippee, immediately got on his cell phone and started calling suppliers. Interestingly enough, he was able to find the part we needed quite a bit cheaper at a Jeep dealer than at a parts warehouse...
Patrick ordered the part, it was delivered today and they had it installed by 10 AM! We were fortunate that the clutch did not seize up while we were driving in those canyons!
One thing we did find out -- Toyota Camrys are NOT the most comfortable cars! This 2005 vehicle that we rented (the last vehicle available on this holiday weekend!) so that we could explore Canyonlands National Park yesterday does not fit us! It was difficult to get in and out of and we were both complaining of sore backs when we got home. But, we were thankful that
it was available so that we could visit another park while the Toad was being repaired.
If you need vehicle repairs when you are in Moab -- check out Arches Repair Center, Inc.!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sand Dune Arch

Most people are familiar with iconic images of Arches National Park -- Balancing Rock, Windows, and Delicate Arch -- so I thought I'd share some of the other lesser known arches that we saw yesterday. These are some of the "fins" of rock that conceal Sand Dune Arch.

What made visiting this one kind of fun is that there are no views of it anywhere from the road. You actually have to go through and into one of the slot canyons to see it.

The slot narrows to a space that is so narrow you have to go sideways to the right of this big boulder. It's very cool and dark.

The trail is mostly deep sand that was damp from yesterday's rainstorm. When you came back into the light, the first thing to be seen were the rocks that had fallen to form the arch.

I was intently searching for the arch as I left the dimness of the slot. Then I looked up and there it was!

If you are a good climber, you could possibly climb up behind and over the big boulder behind the arch, but it is basically a dead end. You can see by the two people standing on the right, that the arch is actually quite large!

This is only one of the 2000 documented arches in the park!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Arches National Park

It seems as though every single National Park we go to is more spectacular than the one before. And Arches is no different -- it is fantastic!

I did quite a bit of hiking today, came back to Auntie Violet and had an hour an a half conference call of the Executive Board. I am tired and the computer is fighting my pictures, so I'll post them tomorrow.

Good night!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From Bloomfield NM to Moab, Utah Today

Today it was Auntie Violet's turn to hit the road. We covered some of the same territory we had gone on with the Toad yesterday, then turning off onto Hwy 491 after we left Shiprock. This huge hill called the Hogback, comes up very quickly as you head onto the Navajo Nation.

We were heading for Moab, Utah and it truly was an amazing drive. The road was two-lane almost all the way and not terribly winding. It was in pretty good shape and the traffic was not very heavy.

The colors along with the eroded fanciful shapes are amazing --

We were traveling most of the day across the Colorado Plateau, with altitudes of 6500 to 7000 feet. And yet, these cliffs and spires stick up above the mesa.

We did see a bit of farmland, especially after we left Colorado and crossed into Utah.

Doesn't this one look like a giant man-made sculpture?

The colors got even more vivid as we headed into the Canyonlands --

Reds and pinks, whites and yellows --

This incredible red was at the only Rest Area on the whole drive. The bluffs dwarf the trucks and Auntie Violet.

This is the scenery at the OK RV Park and Canyonlands Stables where we will be staying for a few days while we check out Arches National Park.

We chased overcast skies and rain storms all the way north today. The roads were often wet from fairly heavy rain and I think the water made the color of the cliffs even darker. It will be interesting to see what they look like in the sunshine.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Four Corners -- Arizona, Utah, Colorado & New Mexico!

I don't have a formal 'Bucket List' per se, but some of the places I've always wanted to see are the Four Corners, Shiprock and Chimney Rock. I suppose it comes from reading all of the Tony Hillerman books about Joe Leaphorn driving around this part of the world as he solved his murder mysteries. So this morning, we took the Toad and drove west from Bloomfield on Highway 64 over to the Arizona state border, the took Highway 160 up to the Four Corners Monument.

We stopped in Bektabito for lunch at this rather unique Mickey D's --

We could see Shiprock Peak from a long way away over on the horizon --

It's a pretty spectacular column of volcanic rock sticking out above the Mesa 1583 feet (7178 feet above sea level). Shiprock Peak is the eroded remnant of the throat of an ancient volcano. The Navajo call it Tse' Bit'a'i, or the Rock With Wings. It figures in many of the Navajo origin legends and is considered a very sacred place.

The Four Corners Monument is on tribal land and is run by the Navajo Nation which charged us $3 a person to enter --

The Monument area was rebuilt last year and features sheltered built-in booths around all of its sides for Navajo vendors of jewelry, rugs, knickknacks, etc. The booths are some protection from the wind, which blows incessantly here.

Walkways approach the center from each state --

If you place your feet just right, you can stand in all four states at once --

Each state seal is embedded in the corner of its state --

On our way back we followed Highway 160 north into Colorado and the Ute Mountain Reservation to where it connected with Highway 491 which took us back to the town of Shiprock and Highway 64. We got a good view of Chimney Rock which stands 7600 feet above sea level.

There have been unsuccessful efforts the last several years to get Chimney Rock declared a National Monument in order to protect the site, but so far Congress has not passed the necessary legislation.

We had a nice surprise after we got home late this afternoon. My friend Tina stopped by with a batch of warm fry bread that she had just finished making! She brought enough for me to freeze. I'll look forward to making some Indian Tacos as well as having some with honey and cinnamon!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Light of Life Mennonite Church

Light of Life Mennonite Church, located in Farmington, New Mexico is where my friend Tina worships. Forry and I joined her there this morning. As I got out of the car, her grand-daughter Kaili came running up and jumped into my arms with a BIG hug! There's nothing like a hug from a five year old to make your day. They had been at our house for dinner last night and Kaili had had a great time checking out how everything in Auntie Violet worked.

Light of Life is only a few years old. It sits on the far-side of Farmington with a great view of the near-by bluffs.

We've had some very active days during the last week, so our agenda this afternoon was to go home and take a long nap. Mission accomplished!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Salmon Ruins, NM

Yeah, we figured while we were so close, we should check out some of the other ruins in the area. These ruins, the Salmon Ruins, are just a couple of miles out of Bloomfield where we are staying.

This museum/gift shop complex is run by San Juan County Museum Association. Today was their Open House, so admission to the complex was free.

These ruins were not excavated until the 1970s. It is considered an "outlier" of the Chaco Canyon communities that we visited yesterday.

This picture shows one of the still intact vertical timber supports of a round room. Because it was excavated more recently, the wood hasn't yet disintegrated like the ones at Bonito Pueblo.

This shows the rock supports that buttressed the wooden roof supports in this kiva. We heard a different story today, suggesting that the forms at the bottom of the kiva had hides stretched over them to form foot drums...?

These ruins are named after the Salmon family who homesteaded here in the late 1890s and are responsible for protecting them from vandalism until the archaeological investigations of the 1970s. This is what remains of their pioneer home (a larger two-story house built later was destroyed by fire...).

The house was built using some of the same techniques used by the builders of the ruins. Note the vigas (timbers) that support the roof.

The "plaster" that covers the walls is made of mud and straw --

Since these ruins are quite a bit smaller than those at Chaco, we were back at Auntie Violet by a little after four. I had pulled some steaks out of the freezer. I fixed some corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes and sweet potato fries to go with them for dinner as we had guests! My Executive Board friend Tina, her daughter Delcherie and grand-daughter Kaili joined us for the evening. It was fun to have them here and to get to know Tina's family a little bit!