Category: Arizona

Move to Monument Valley

We have been in a lot of places without cell coverage or WIFI, so I am 21 days behind! We have been in some spectacular places. Our national parks and monuments are great places. For the next 12 days, we should have good service, so I should catch up.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

We packed up at Ten-X Campground, with one more visit by our elk. Suddenly, there were barking dogs. I looked up to see a couple of mixed breed medium-sized dogs running after the elk. He took off at a big trot, leading those dogs to who knows where. Soon a young lady came after them, calling futilely. She may never see those dogs again, depending on how long they chase the elk, and if they have any sense of finding their way back to the campground.

 We hooked up and headed east, making one last stop at Lipan Point for some spectacular views of the Grand Canyon. Once down the mountain, we turned northeast on Rt. 160 toward Monument Valley. We were a little concerned about the heat, as we had been very comfortable at Ten-X. Except for the yellow jacket invasion, I would rate the campground a 9 or 10. As we drove out, we saw traps that were working well around the fresh water spigots. 

It was about a 2.5 hour pleasant drive to Monument Valley KOA campground. Once settled, we went to the Visitor’s Center. Although open, it was pretty stark inside. We wandered around reading signs and looking at pictures. A young foreign couple asked an employee about maps and trails. She was very curt. “All we do is sell maps. We don’t take credit cards. This is an all-cash park.” She gave them no information or help of any sort and should be relieved of her position immediately. The Welcome Center was not very welcoming.

We drove through the traffic circle to Goulding’s Lodge and Trading Post to look around. Harry and Leone (called Mike) Goulding came here in the 1920’s, starting the trading post, hotel and bringing people here to see this great place. They were influential in bringing John Ford here. Ford would later film “Stagecoach” here. That would start a long history of movie-making in Monument Valley.

Back at the KOA, a big, black storm was approaching from the north. With monuments right on the other side of the street, we headed out for some pictures. It made for some very dramatic shots.

Shoshone Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Saturday, July 23, 2022

We were driving the eastern part of the south rim and came to a sandy parking area with no sign. We pulled in and asked a man who was walking back down the trail. He said it was a beautiful view and a 3/4 mile walk up this sand road. 

We didn’t know what to expect, but it was a beautiful spot out on a ledge with great views. On the way back a family (perhaps German) were taking pictures of a tree, so we stopped to ask what they saw. It was a gopher snake eating a mouse. How it caught the mouse 4’ up a tree is a mystery.

Then we drove to the museum, a cool building that was closed. Outside the building were vendors. We walked around the other side to find an ancient site that was built in the Pueblo Indians 800 years ago in the Pueblo Ii era 950-1150). It was occupied for about 20 years.

On the other side of the closed museum, Indian art was being sold by four vendors, and all of it was very good. Martha bought a couple of pieces. 

We talked with a museum guide, who told us some of the Pueblo beliefs. They believe they came out of the Earth. We would learn later that their kivas were important because symbolically they climbed down into the kiva from the roof, exiting the same way. He said Pueblos believe there are four periods, and we are in the last one now. 

We made one more stop at Navajo Point before heading back to camp

Western Rim Hike, Grand Canyon National Park

Friday, July 22, 2022

We caught the red line bus to the western part of the South Rim Trail, most of which is unpaved. We walked along the rim for an hour seeing very few people. No cars are allowed on this section, so bikers took advantage. Early in the morning it would be a great bike ride. We passed a small group that were on a bike tour. 

We caught the bus, went up a stop or two, then walked the last mile to Hermit’s Rest. I love this building that blends in with its surroundings. It has the most incredible fireplace!

Back at Ten-X Campground, we had to stay inside the Airstream. Yellow Jackets have infested the campground. They don’t sting you, but they buzz all around you and whatever food or drink you carry. 

We have been fortunate to have elk in our camp almost every day, mostly three males. Patty educated me on what males are called. they are spikes until their horns branch. Then they are called bulls. 

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon NP

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

We hiked Bright Angel Trail to the 1.5 mark, where there is a spring and a restroom! It was certainly easy enough walking down. It was about 7:30 when we started – not early enough! there were a lot of people already at the spring when we got there, and I had to stand in line to go to the bathroom. 

As we started back up, we talked with a nice lady ranger. I asked how far it was to the edge of the mesa below. We could clearly see the trail below us, and it didn’t appear to be a bad walk. She said, “It is 6.5 miles to that overlook. You have been a mile and a half.” I quickly acknowledged we could not hike back up 6.5 miles. She said a lot of people walk down to Indian Garden, a green area we could easily see. They would often spend the night there, walking out to the end in the evening. Then hiking back up in the morning. 

Martha asked about shade going back up. She said it is mostly shady in the morning, so round-trip hikers will sometimes walk down Kaibab Trail, spend the night, then hike back up Bright Angel, taking advantage of shade going down and coming back up. She said we were smart to start back up. 

We might have been considered smart if we had started at 7:00, or even 6:00, but it got hot as we made our way back up. We had to stop many times to rest and catch our breath. I had soaked my shirt in the spring water before starting. By the time we got back to the top, we were exhausted by a tough 3-mile walk!

We went back to Bright Angel Lodge for lunch and a lot of water! Then back to our campsite for a nap. It was very hot, so we turned the air conditioner on, set to 85 degrees. It cut back on in 20 minutes, and we did that for three hours. We were not plugged in, so this was an extreme test for our batteries. It ate up all of the charge, by the time we turned it off in the evening. I hoped the Arizona sun would help regain power tomorrow. 

In the evening we went to Grand View to watch the sun set. It was interesting to follow guides, listening to their talks. I cringed as parents crawled over the wall with their kids too get to a “better” spot. One guide noted buzzards circling below us. He said someone probably fell down there. “It happens all the time”, he said. They might have a broken bone or worse.

We decided to leave a bit early to beat the crowd. Driving back, the whole sky lit up! 

It was too hot to cook, so we went out to dinner. It was just OK, but it beat cooking on a hot day. Fortunately it had turned cooler and was fine for sleeping. Worried about battery power, I cut off the fan at midnight and closed the vent. It was 60 degrees when I got up!

Hike to Ooo Ahh Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

We went to watch the sunrise at Yaki Point. Others had picked their spots long before us, some bringing chairs. 

We then went to the Kaibab Trail Head, opting to walk .9 mile to Ooo Ahh Point. There are other turn around places, but we didn’t want to push our luck. It was a pretty morning, maybe 75 degrees and shady. Walking down in easy enough. We followed three girls, one videoing the whole thing on her phone. At Ooo Ahh, they took turns taking pictures of each other standing on a rock.

The walk back up wasn’t terrible, so we rewarded ourselves with coffee and huevos ranchos at Bright Angel Lodge. Elk were trimming the bushes all around the lodge! Walking behind the lodge, we went to the geology museum on the edge of the canyon. A little further west we came to the Kolb Studio and museum. The Kolb brothers came in the late 1800’s and spent their lives here, exploring, photographing, filming a trip down the Colorado through the canyon, and did a lot to bring visitors. Incredibly brave, it is amazing what they accomplished.

Outside the museum we saw a riders coming up the trail on the famous mules. We followed them to the hitching rail where the mules were given water. They were good-looking mules and happy to get their sweaty heads rubbed. A guide said it is a two hour ride down and 4.5 hours back up. The riders looked tired as well. I would like to take that trip!

Back at camp, a beautiful elk buck came to visit, lying down in the shade just behind the picnic table. It was a good day!

Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center and South Rim Trail

Monday, July 18, 2022

What a change! From 107 degree highs with little escape to 59 degree low in Ten-X Campground in the Kaibab National Forest 10 miles south of  of Grand Canyon National Park. We went to sleep with all the windows open after a lovely stir-fry dinner while watching three elk bucks wander through the campground. 

I was awakened by talking and laughter outside our front window. A group of young campers had come in and were setting up just across from us at 11:30. Speaking Chinese I think, they were having a big time, but with no regard for their neighbors. I resisted the urge to go out in my underwear and tell them to consider others.

We slept relatively late. There was an unexpected time change, as Arizona doesn’t recognize daylight savings time. As we got ready for the day and tried to find Martha’s lost iPad, I slammed my car door several times. I wanted to honk the horn, but Martha said I would wake our nice neighbors to the right. They had come in yesterday afternoon in a big camper with a young boy and girl. After setting up, he came over to introduce himself. They are from Michigan and have been on the road for a couple of weeks. It was cool to watch the whole family do their part of the set-up. Then the little boy hopped on his bike and explored the campground.

There is a small city at the south rim around the Visitor’s Center. There are stores, restaurants, coffee houses, hotels, two campgrounds, a services center, everything you need in a maze of roads. Like Zion, the Visitor’s Center is mostly outdoors, using sign’s to give you information. Angel’s Landing hike in Zion gains 1600’ and is considered difficult. The Bright Angel Trail here is 5,000’ change in elevation and 25-20 degrees in temperature. You would have to carry a gallon of water and four sandwiches for each direction.

We opted to walk the rim trail, which is really a road. It was fairly crowded, and most people were nice. One big group however, decided to take 30 pictures at a big overlook with no concern for others. Like Zion, people come from all over the world, speaking many languages.

Martha pointed out a lady taking pictures of goats. I quickly turned around to see her. She smiled and pointed to a rock platform where there were five or six goats. Of course I had a 35-70mm lens, but she was shooting with a phone. She went ahead along the rim to get closer and I followed. She left the rim, going down the side to get closer. At first I refused, but seeing it was a well-worn path, I followed, and we got some pretty good shots. We have been looking for goats for a month. Then they show up in numbers right below the busy Rim Trail.

I looked through several stores for a 30 amp breaker switch with no luck. Our air conditioner has been tripping that breaker, and the top three breakers get very hot. Worrying about a fire, I shut it down for a couple of hours. In Zion, where high temperatures were 104-110 every day, it was torture. We finally learned to nurse it by setting it to 84 at night, and gradually lowering it through the night.

Martha Googled RV electricians and called one. The secretary said he had stepped out and would call us back. The next day Jeff with a southern accent, called. I explained the problem to him. He said it sounded like a breaker problem, so I asked if he could come and help us with it. He asked where we were, and I told him Watchman Campground. I was surprised when he said he never heard of that. When I said it is in Zion National Park, Jeff said he was in Arkansas!! We both got a laugh, then he proceeded to tell me what to do. I could barely hear him, but I thanked him profusely. 

I then emailed Lew Farber, who did all my solar work. A quick reply said it was strange it didn’t trip the 20 amp air conditioner breaker. He recommended replacing the breaker and see what happens. 

A man told Martha there was a hardware store in Valle, 20 miles south. Otherwise, it’s an hour and a half to Flagstaff.

Move to Ten-X Campground

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Back on Rt. 89 going south, it was hot, very hot. Our 4.5-hour drive was at first very pretty, but then became more of a desert. we stopped at the very nice Glazier’s Market in Kanab, Utah and stocked up. They gave us a receipt for 15% off at their gas station.

Crossing into Arizona, we stopped for lunch at an overlook of the Colorado River and Lake Powell, which is now at 27% capacity. It was a nice spot for lunch under a covered picnic area.

The next two hours was desert, and the land looked like a giant gravel yard with gravel mountains. As we began to climb the mountain into the huge Kaibab National Forest, it became more green and temperatures dropped from 105 to 88 at the top.

We entered Grand Canyon National Park, showing our Senior Pass, and drove south on Rt. 64 to Ten-X Campground in the national forest. Two reasons led me to Ten-X. first I couldn’t get a site in the park, and second there were pictures of elk in the Ten-X campground. It is also in a forest, and well-shaded.

We liked our campsite fortunately, because we would be here for a week. Ten-X got its name because it is 10 miles from the south entrance to the park. We hope to visit the north rim later, but we will still be in the Kaibab National Forest.

We took a drive up to the Visitor’s Center, which has moved outside, using big signs to introduce visitors to the park. We walked along the South Rim Trail for a while. It is so immense, it boggles the mind. The Colorado travels 277 miles through the park, is about one mile deep and 10 miles across. At the narrowest point, it is 600 yards across. The river’s average width is 300 feet across, although it narrows to only 76 feet wide at mile 135, where the river, 85 feet deep, is also at its deepest. On average, the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon is 40 feet deep. (https://www.gcex.com/grand-canyon-trivia/) One sign said it is the largest example of erosion in the world. 

Three beautiful bucks came to visit
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