July 15, 2011

It has been a great month for Arizona rv adventures in Petrified Forest NP! The Wallow fire continued to burn through June, mostly into New Mexico toward the end. They finally have it 100% contained, though it burned well over 800 square miles and is tagged the biggest fire in AZ history.

We saw smoke toward the southwest one afternoon and I learned from the news later that a trailer (as in RV) blew a tire which ignited the grass. Fortunately, they got it controlled fairly quickly, as the wind would have brought that one directly to us. That would be a pretty scary Arizona rv adventure!

Jitterbug PetroglyphsPetroglyphs on Lacey Point Hike

One Saturday morning I did the Lacey Point hike with some of the other volunteers and Ranger Steve. We started out about 8:30 and got back a little after 12, so the second half of the hike was extremely hot and sweaty going. This is a wonderful hike out into the badlands; there are great petroglyphs at Jitterbug Rock, beautiful pieces of petrified wood and, at an ancient archaeological site, lots of pottery shards. It was very steep climbing back up onto the mesa and I was whipped from this Arizona rv adventure, on foot, by the time we reached the top. I should have drunk more water.

A killdeer has made its nest on the ground under a tree in the VIP area and there are three gray-speckled eggs that the male and female take turns guarding. We can’t tell the two birds apart, so have nicknamed them “Doug.” When we walk too close to the nest Doug runs away from it, acting wounded to lure us away. We are all very curious to see what the chicks will look like. Evidently the parents do not feed the chicks in the nest; they are off and running the minute they hatch, so you have to be watching at the right moment. Unfortunately the great hatch does not occur prior to my leaving.

Though I'm not done with Arizona rv adventures, my days at Petrified Forest NP are almost over. It is sort of sad to be leaving PEFO as I've enjoyed the people and the park very much.

Walnut Canyon National MonumentCliff Dwellings at Walnut Canyon

By the July 4th weekend, Arizona rv adventures entered what’s called the “transition period” between the hot, dry weather and the monsoon season. The humidity increased to about 30% instead of the 3% we were accustomed to; every afternoon clouds built and we saw lightning in the distance, but aside from a couple of brief showers, most of the rain did not make it into the north end of the park. Temperatures were in the upper 90s and the wind had left us at last; I wished it were back.

 Northern Arizona RV Adventures

On July 8, I left Petrified Forest and headed to Flagstaff for some new Arizona RV adventures, driving through a fairly violent rainstorm before arriving at Greer’s Pine Country RV Park where I spent the next four nights. It was COOL there – about 10-15 deg. cooler than PEFO – bliss! I hooked up Mehitabel, had lunch, then drove to Albertson’s to replenish my supply of Ken’s Greek dressing, Albertson's apparently being the only market that carries it. Imagine my joy when I discovered arugula and Celestial Seasonings Red teas as well. Onward to New Frontiers Natural Marketplace where they had crisp, fresh, dewy baby bok choy, and some delicious looking veggie pizza type thing in the deli. I had missed good vegetables so much during the past several months!

While in Flagstaff, I visited Walnut Canyon NM and did the “Island Trail” hike which takes you partway down into the canyon past 1000 year old cliff dwellings (photo above left) once occupied by the Sinagua people (Sinagua is Spanish for “people without water”). Since they farmed on the cliff rims, their homes were built into the cliffs about 1/3 of the way down in shallow caves which had eroded out of the limestone. Archaeologists believe it was the women who were the builders. Hmmm.

Sunset Crater NVolcano M - Flagstaff, AZSunset Crater Volcano NM

One rainy morning during my Arizona rv adventures in Flagstaff, I visited the Museum of Northern Arizona, devoted to the geology and anthropology of the Colorado Plateau. There you will find pottery and basketry from all different periods of occupation and all the different tribes. The gift shop made me drool, showing beautiful arts and crafts of the present day Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo. There was also a retrospective exhibit of the work of Bruce Aiken, who desired to “live an exceptional life in an extraordinary area.” He had lived in Roaring Springs, near the bottom of the Grand Canyon and is noted for his paintings of the Canyon.

That afternoon I drove out to Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments. Sunset Crater erupted somewhere between 1040 and 1100 – the most recent in a 6 million year history of volcanic activity around Flagstaff. The immediate area surrounding the crater consists of vast lava beds and hills of cinders – a stark and strangely beautiful landscape. Even miles away, the earth is covered in cinders – plant life looks brilliant against the black.

Flagstaff is a great city - a good place to set off on many Arizona rv adventures. I felt I had just scratched the surface and looked forward to coming back again.

Apache Plume - Arizona WildflowersApache Plume

This terrific program gave me the courage to retire and become a full-time RVer: Abundance for Life

Wupatki NM is really a collection of several masonry pueblos or villages, home to thousands of people by 1180, all of them farming where the thin layer of ash from the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano had improved the agricultural potential by helping to retain the moisture. By 1250, the people had moved on to establish new homes and the pueblos were empty.

Arizona RV Adventures - Wupatki Nat'l MonumentWupatki National Monument

On 7/13, I took my Arizona rv adventures on the road again and drove up to Page and Lake Powell/Glen Canyon Nat’l Recreation Area. The scenery is awesome: canyons, cliffs and domes of red rock. I've heard Glen Canyon was even more awesome, before they built the dam and filled it with water.

I stopped to get gas at the Shell station in Page. As I stood there, hose in hand, the heavens let loose and I was drenched. I toweled off and continued the few miles over the Glen Canyon Dam and on to Wahweap Bay for two nights at the Lower Wahweap RV Campground.

The next afternoon I boarded a cruise boat with many others and enjoyed a 5 hour cruise out to Rainbow Bridge NM. It was a gorgeous sunny day – sky filled with puffy clouds, a nice breeze, no sign of rain, vistas of red sandstone rocks and cliffs against the blue-green of the water. The bridge itself is a marvel of nature, 290’ high and 275’ across if I remember right. It’s on Navajo land and considered sacred by them.

This is an old photograph, dating from the 1930s or 1940s, of my great-aunt Anita at Rainbow Bridge. She rode in on horseback; now the only way to get there is by boat, unless you hike 16-18 miles around Navajo Mountain.

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Rainbow Bridge NMRainbow Bridge National Monument

On the 14th, I left Arizona, driving 183 miles west and north for more rv adventures at Kodachrome Basin State Park in the middle of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. Incredibly, the cliffs get even redder, especially after turning onto SR12 and entering Dixie National Forest and the Red Canyon. I drove past the entrance to Bryce Canyon, through the little towns of Tropic and Cannonville, viewing cliffs and hoodoos of tan, ochre, pink, coral, terra cotta and red, finally arriving at my destination. This is where I would stay until the end of October.

I’m all alone, with full hookups (a big gopher snake lives next to the sewer hookup), in a spot adjacent to the visitor center parking lot. At the end of July when the current camp host leaves his site in the campground, I’ll move up there. There is no cell service here; I must drive 9 miles to Cannonville to make calls. I have no internet service either, but there is a DSL line in the Visitor Center which I am welcome to use. At present, there is a nice breeze and the nights are lovely and cool; the monsoon will return in a few days.

Sadly, the several rainstorms of the past week have resulted in a leak or leaks around the skylite over my shower. This is not unexpected on an rv adventure. Brandon, who constitutes the entire maintenance dept. here says he’ll take a look at it and may be able to fix it.

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