Monday, June 27, 2011

Dancing thru CO & UT into Wyoming

      When we left the Show Low area, we headed to Canyon de Chelly.  We'd been there 7 years ago during the winter when it was quite cold, but we fondly remembered the beautiful campground.  It was a pretty as we remembered and still free, although the Navajo Tribe and NPS are working together to make some changes.  We were told the paperwork was on the desk of the tribal president, just waiting for a signature.  The expected charge we were told will be $10/night.  There are no hook ups, but it is a beautiful and peaceful park.  There is free Wifi at the Lodge, only 1/4 mile away.  We didn't have enough phone service to use my Verizon port, so that was handy.  The campground also was a great place for riding my bike and I soon worked out a 4 mile route that I rode each morning for the six days we were there.
      There are two drives to both the South and North Rims, where you can view ruins.  We took those and also attended several ranger lead programs to learn more about the area, people, plants, etc.  It remains a very beautiful and spiritual place.  The photo below  is of Spider Rock, where one legend has it that Spider Woman was born and taught the Navajos to weave. Of course there's also a geocache there.  Another sure thing was enjoying Navajo tacos while there.
     From there we drove to Cortez, Colorado, where we stayed at their  Elks Lodge, conveniently located on the Conquistador Country Club and Golf Course.  Gary managed to get in two rounds there and another round at a city course.  We also visited the Cortez Cultural Center for a program of Indian Dances and a lecture on the history of the Hogan and it's uses today.
     The night we arrived I posted our location there on Facebook and soon we got an email from fellow Roosters (friends who also have a lot at our RV park in AZ), Nora and Dennis Doty, who were in Durango, about 50 miles west.  We communicated and guess who pulled in the next morning?  We also connected in Mesa Verde and it was fun having them as neighbors to for us both to share our adventures with each evening.
     About 15 years ago we took a quick day trip to Mesa Verde and always wanted to return.  This time we thoroughly explored the park and took Ranger led tours through Cliff Palace (pictured below),  and Long House (climbing up the ladders to get in the upper ruins), the two largest cliff dwellings.   It was fun climbing the ladders to explore and be able to walk through the ruins.  We also saw many other cliff dwellings on our drives and on the tram ride on Wetherill Mesa. 

     We took one day to visit old friends, Matt and Lori Volk now living outside Durango.  I even managed to visit a couple quilt shops.  Of course we also went geocaching along the way and found one of the best we'd seen so far.  It was called, "Have you seen the Muffler Man?"  Obviously done by someone with a lot of time on his hands, it was at least an acre of land around a small pond with all sorts of human and animal figures all made of mufflers and painted white.  There were many funny sayings and signs as well as a small herd of goats following us around.  I've put a couple pictures of them in here, but can't possibly convey all the ingenuity and humor they held.

      We made a day tour to Apache Ruins National Monument in Apache, NM.  This was one of the largest sites found, with over 400 rooms (pictured below).  We passed Shiprock, a famous landmark for the pioneers and found several geocaches along the way.  There were about six in a stretch dedicated to all the local firefighters and EMTs.  Of course those had special meaning to us. 

     The last exciting day trip we made was driving the famed San Juan Skyway, rightly called the, "most beautiful drive in America."  It was 236 miles in length, starting in Cortez, and going through Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, Rico and back to Cortez.  There is one section called the Million Dollar Highway.  We heard many stories about how it got its name, from the cost to build, the amount of ore left in the road fill, or the saying of many when they finished the drive, "I wouldn't do that again for a million dollars."   There are grades up to 8% with 155 curves along this stretch and very few guard rails, mostly because there isn't room for them.  However, contrary to what we'd heard, there is a white line on the the side all the way.  We also saw many 14,000 foot peaks and were high enough (11,000+ feet),  to see snow patches on the ground.  Driving into Telluride, we could see Bridal Veil Falls, the highest falls (365 feet) in CO.
     The temperature started going up into the 90's and we decided to move further north, so we headed for Price, UT, where we stayed at another Elks Lodge.  The main thing we wanted to see there was Nine Mile Canyon, called the world's longest art gallery by some.  The 9 mile is a misnomer, as it is actually about 40 miles long.  It was mapped using a nine mile transect (not sure what that is) and the name stuck.  There are pictographs and petroglyphs galore along the rocks.  Most very old, although some recent folks have attempted to add theirs.  Being a dirt road has helped keep the crowds down.  It was well worth the side trip if you like rock art and we were glad we'd taken the time to do it.

     Once again the 90 degree temps caught up with  us and we knew of one cool place we could go to enjoy days in the 70's and nights in the 40's - EVANSTON, WY!!!  We left a day early (Gary even gave up his golf game there, however I'm sure he'll make it up) and arrived here on June 26th.  We'll spend the next couple months visiting with kids, grandkids, old friends, and maybe even a few great-grandkids.  Make sure and let us know if you're in the neighborhood of southwest Wyoming or Salt Lake City, UT (only 75 miles away).  No, we don't miss the campground hosting and yes, we're having fun!
     Dancing through a Wyoming summer...................
     Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Spicy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dancing in the White Mountains of Arizona

         While we always enjoy the Roost, we may have stayed a little long as we got into some triple digit days.  Although those who brave the REAL summer heat kept assuring us this wasn’t bad, “Wait until it’s 120.”  It was plenty warm for us.  Gary did get to finish his pool league.  In his last 3 pool tournaments, he finished 2nd, 1st, and 2nd.           We left Casa Grande on June 1st, heading up into the White Mountains on top of the Mogollion rim.  This is a dramatic 200 mile long uplift that splits Arizona into two separate regions from the mountains of the north to the basins and deserts of the rest of the state.  The low and mid 80’s felt wonderful and night time temps of high 40’s to 50’s  were great. 
         We were going to stay at the Elk’s in Show Low, but found they no longer allow boondocking, so we sent to Scott’s Reservoir, in Pinetop-Lakeside  for  five days.  It was a great spot and free too.  We found it through the Escapee Day’s End listings.  There were two wildfires concerning to us while we were there and we checked with the ranger station a few times, giving them our phone number in case we needed to evacuate.  One was about an hour east of us and the other about two hours west of us.  We could see the smoke rising from the one to the east each day and with strong winds, it was always a concern.

        There is an interesting story as to how Show Low got it’s name.  Two fellows had bought a 100,000 acre ranch together.  After a while it became obvious the ranch could not support two families so they decided to play a game of cards to determine who would get the ranch.  In 1885, they played 7-up all night, with one fellow only needing 1 point to win.  He was sitting with a 3 and told the other fellow to “show low” to win.  He turned up the deuce of clubs and won the ranch.  The main street thru town  is called “Deuce of Clubs” and the town is called “Show Low” today.  Of course there’s a geocache here at this statue telling the history.  

        We drove down to Fort Apache, where Gary could visit scenes from old Western movies.  The Fort was interesting with their museum and the old houses.  The Army Post was established in 1870 and active until 1922.  Since then it has been home to Theodore Roosevelt  Indian Boarding School.  We then drove 4 miles west to Kinishba Indian Ruins.  This site is a National Historic Landmark that was rescued and rebuilt in the 1930’s and has now fallen into ruins again.  It contains the remains of a village built and occupied by ancestors of  the Hopi and Zuni people from 1200 to 1400 AD.  The village was made up of two main room blocks, one of which stood three stories tall.  Kinishba remains a sacred site for Apache and Pueblo people today.

         We were enjoying the area so much, we moved into a Forest Service campground , Lakeside, for a few more days.  Pinetop-Lakeside is located in the largest contiguous stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world, at an elevation of 7,200 feet.  There are over 50  natural lakes and reservoirs.  After a week here, the Wallow fire was about 40 miles east of us and still 0% contained. It is fast growing toward being the largest in AZ history.  Evacuees from the fire area  are coming to centers set up at the schools here and we have several displaced campground hosts and some evacuees at this park. Smoke continues to rise to the east of us.

         One of the best ways to explore a new area is through Geocaching and Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside were no exception.  We found 25 caches while there, including 7 in a city park series that took us to all the city parks.  One of the parks held their Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial, Show Low having also lost a firefighter in 2005.  Another geocache took us past the Senior Center and Gary found their pool schedule, so he could go play one day.  We drove past the Bison Golf  Club looking for a geocache, so of course Gary stopped and set up a golf date.  It was a good course and he was happy to shoot a 76.   
         We visited with friends from the Roost, Frank and Suzanne, that have a summer place here and went to Show Low Days with them.  Around 2002, I met a really neat gal online through the Escapees Handcrafters Bof.  Although we had never met, we kept in touch through emails every since.  Joyce and her husband, Don, have a summer trailer in Show Low and invited us for lunch one afternoon.  It was great getting to meet them and we chatted pretty steadily for several hours. 
         In my earlier blogs, I forgot to mention my acquiring a Nook Color a couple months ago.  I love it and it’s great to be able to check library books out from the Greater Phoenix Digital library while traveling and a lot easier than carrying a lot of books.  I’ve also downloaded several free books and subscribed to a couple magazines.  They also have apps now and I’ve downloaded a few games.  (Beware anyone considering Angry Birds - it’s addicting!!!)   There are others that will be good, but I need to wait until I can trade my Verizon USB Air for a 5spot or mifi card.  Then I’ll have the wifi that they require to run. 
         Next we’ll be dancing toward Canyon de Chelly in the northeastern corner of Arizona………….…
Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty and Spicy too!