Friday, December 27, 2013

It’s almost like coming home

Hummingbird feeder is out – we have been visited by a couple Anna’s taking on nutrition – we must be at the Escapees Park near Casa Grande where we love to spend Christmas and New Years - - Season’s Greetings everyone!
The trip down was horrendous! We left in the cold and snow and it followed us all the way to Nevada!
Our first night was in Dillion, MT - had to plug in - it was -29C and bloody cold and snowy!
The next night was in Lehi, Utah - just south of Salt Lake City - it was warming up just enough to muck up all the roads and make it dirty, splashy and somewhat slippery.  We found a wonderful Thai restaurant there and enjoyed that.

My favourite canyon road (Virgin River Canyon) - the road between St. George, Utah and Mesquite, NE was closed because of the snow and bad weather. 
We made it to Laughlin the next night and managed to score a $20.00 room at the River Palms Hotel/Casino. I scored about $40.00 profit and we spent the evening with Chuck and Sheila - the folks from Wetaskiwin.
We picked up the Motor Home the next morning and to our delight, everything was just fine.
Oh, it's so good to be back in the MH - I really do hate Motel/Hotel travelling!
We went down to Quartzsite and spend time with Chuck and Sheila again, out on the desert - that was good! We do so enjoy their company and playing card with them. And Sheila and I enjoy being able to cook together – we’re good at it!
I thought we were going down to Yuma but Fred decided we should come directly to Casa Grande so we could get a good RV site and be off the road for the holidays. 
Snowbird country seems very quiet! It is surprising how uncrowded it is! It seems people are either not coming down or they are coming south a lot later.
Like everywhere else, the prices have  gone up but we can still handle it!
So we're settled for a month - it is surprising how many people we know here - nice!
Aw-w-w it’s almost like coming home.
I managed to spend Christmas nursing a horrible cold but everyone made sure Fred brought me a feed from the Christmas Dinner. I don`t think he`s going to escape the malady but at least I know what he`s going through.


2001 to 2005

Island Winter-wintering on Vancouver Island


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Okay – Now What!!

The now what turned out to be visits to Nevada (Mesquite, Laughlin, and Avi) and Arizona (Bullhead City and Fort Mojave) before we headed back home.
We were surprised how hot it was! Another Passport America discount RV Park in Fort Mojave offered the cooling vibes of the air conditioner. It was 90 F when we left Bullhead City.
Strange Trip Home: Never can we say our trips home are without incident!
First it is so-o-o strange to stay in Motels or Hotels! And expensive! Holy Cow!
Then - Snow, you say, in September?
A Progression of Our Trip
We started to see snow
And more snow
And cars off the road

Slow Down, Fred!
I never realized how different everything looks this time of year!
The blazing red Burning Bush
The outstanding Montana skies
And then there are the views from our front window!!
The Sunsets!
The Changing Colour of the Leaves!
Life is Tough!!
(We got home October 5th and after the first snowfall looked at each other and said. “What are we doing here?”
We took out the calendar, called the Travel Medical Insurance people and set up the date-to-leave sooner rather than later).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Old is New Again

September 20 to 24

Zion . . . Lake Mead . . . we are drawn to both places and managed to visit on this trip as well.

Zion is my favourite American National Park and the Lake Mead area is always a place we like to stop on our way home in the Spring. BUT we have never been to either place in the early fall of the year.

There is always something new and wondrous at Zion. I feel like I belong here! I’m nestled in the canyon surrounded by these magnificent protective pillars . . . it feels so safe!

As usual we jumped on the shuttle to tour around the park.


Again we managed to travel with a driver who loved the park and loved to tell us about all the different sights.

We saw wild-flowers we had never seen before and learned about them:

The Angel’s Trumpet was growing everywhere along the roadside . . . we had never seen them before and asked the driver. She told us that they are a poisonous plant called Angel’s Trumpets or Devil’s Trumpets. And it appears they have hallucinatory qualities as well. According to the U.S. Forest Service Botany Program, they are also called Jimsonweed, Thornapple, Moonflower, and Sacred Daturas (Datura spp.) and have hallucinogenic properties. The Tohono O’odham shamans of south-central Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico perform a song-poem ritual

“Pima Jimsonweed Song”

“At the time of the White Dawn;
At the time of the White Dawn,
I arose and went away.
At Blue Nightfall I went away.
I ate the thornapple leaves
And the leaves made me dizzy.
I drank thornapple flowers
And the drink made me stagger…”

It illustrates the great significance and nature of Datura plants in the oral and sacred traditions of many native cultures. Archaeological evidence shows that Datura has been in use for at least 3,000 years.

The climber scaling the wall


The Temples and Towers



Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam

Lake Mead is part of the Colorado River system and was formed by the Hoover Dam. When it is full (which hasn’t happened since 1983) Lake Mead is huge . . . about 112 miles long with 550 miles of shore-line and over 500 feet at its greatest depth  . . . but droughts  have changed these dimensions.

The staff at The Flaming Gorge told us that while the level of the Flaming Gorge River has fallen 100 feet, Lake Mead has fallen at least 146 feet.  


The Bridge across the Hoover Dame is finally completed.



No, no, you can't jump across there!


 Okay – now what!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sometimes Change Just Sucks!

Fred and I don’t deal with disappointment very well. When our friends said that they were going to Colorado to visit Jer’s Mom and would not be in Truth or Consequences when got there, we were sorely disappointed. Spending quality time with them was one of the goals of the trip. 
Knee-jerk Reaction?!
“Let’s just go home!”
After a night’s sleep and some sober second thought we realized that it was DUMB to head home considering we were already south. 
Out came all our maps and we went back to the drawing board.
Considering our adventures with gorges, passes and winding roads, the lure of a wide, straight Interstate Highway was undeniable. Our first stop on Interstate 15 was Beaver, UT.

Unusual Treasures in Unusual Places
The unusual place is Beaver, Utah. Beaver is merely a fly speck on the road to warmth that we travel every winter.  How did we find this place? The Beaver Canyon Campground is one of the few discount RV Parks along the way.
It’s a funky little park where each site is unique and each is decorated according to the whims of previous occupants with treasures rescued from the latest yard sale or other peoples’ throw-aways.
It really hasn’t changed much from the first time we stopped there way back in 2002 although the signage has definitely improved.
When we drove up to register, a young fellow was flitting back and forward like a buzzed road-runner trying to keep (or get) things organized. He was kind of panting as he explained to us,”There is only one site left - way in the back – is that okay? You would need to come up here to the rest rooms and showers?”
“No problem,” we told him.
“I’ll be back is less than five minutes. You can fill out the form sitting on the counter in there” he said, as he ran ahead of another RV escorting it to its site.
Five minutes later, he and his faithful dog Blue were back standing on the front porch. All registered and ready to go, Blue and his faithful human walked us to site C24. A pull through – yes, but not overly level or wide.

We wandered around the park admiring the creativity and ingenuity of the folks who had decorated the sites. Some sites have fences surrounding them, others have covered patios and almost every site has some sort of decoration wall.

The Park comes along with a built-in fabulous Mexican restaurant run by Maria – the wife/mother part of the ownership. Truthfully, we have never had better Mexican food and even the local folks told us that it is the best place to eat in town. 
Talking about local folks, we always try to explore a community we visit. Well, Beaver is not what you would call a thriving, robust community but we did manage to find a unique treasure . . . the Love the Art Gallery.
We went into town to check out the WiFi at McDonalds and noticed this interesting sculpture sitting in front of (what looked like) an abandoned service station. The Gallery is in that old Service Station. Love the Art is a warm family owned business. Almost all the pieces are created from local materials and Tina, her Dad and uncle have done most of the work housed in the Gallery. They have one of a kind, Hand Carved Rock Sculptures, Animal Carvings, Gifts, Jewellery, Chainsaw Carvings and much more.



The Gallery has only been open since 2012 but they have been in the gemstone business for 35 years.

 Our next challenge was to find more National Parks to explore and decide what we would do next.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stalking Old Bones: Dinosaur National Monument

We had a great visit with Sandy and Lorraine in Wyoming but like Fred says “Both fish and visitors start to smell after three days” so even though we enjoyed being with them, it was time to head down the road towards Utah.
The Flaming Gorge
The Flaming Gorge lays half in Wyoming and half in Utah. Now, as we have been exploring all these valleys, canyons, and gorges, there came a burning question – what is the difference between a gorge, a canyon and a valley? It turns out that there is not an awful lot and it generally depends on who you ask.
E-How says “The only technical difference between a canyon and a gorge is linguistic. “ Canyon" comes from Spanish, while "gorge" is a French word. From a geological standpoint, the two are exactly the same.” ( )
They say that gorges generally have rivers running through the bottom – but then so do canyons and valleys can have rivers as well. I never did get a definitive answer to that question, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.
Anyway, it was rather grey, overcast, and rainy when we drove along the rim of the gorge so not too much time was spent appreciating the scenery.
The outstanding memory of the Flaming Gorge is the road we took. Following US 191, we started with a detour, followed the road through the Gorge over the dam and THEN 10 switchbacks with 9% grades over an 8 mile stretch. I think we have done our Gorge-Passes thing - rather a white-knuckle experience.
Dinosaur National Monument
Vernal, UT is the jumping off place to tour Dinosaurland. The building at the Quarry site of Dinosaur National Monument is built to enclose and protect the fossils and the site.
A shuttle takes visitors from the Visitor Center to the Quarry site where a large glassed building encloses part of a sandstone hillside that resembles a steep riverbank. In fact, the building is built into a riverbank where ancient dinosaurs went to drink and either fell in or were washed away by fast moving waters. The bones remain where they have lain for millions and millions of years. The quarry is reputed to hold one of the best Jurassic Period finds in the world.
clip_image010As the river carried animal carcasses downstream, many became stuck on the sandbar, which eventually turned to rock. As a result, fossils from hundreds of creatures are concentrated in a small area. Many fossilized bones have been partially exposed but left intact in the rock where they can be easily seen. A building was constructed over the area, which is now known as "The Quarry" at the monument.
So much of what visitors get from a museum or exhibit depends on the guide. We had a phenomenal guide. With his laser pointer, he could highlight various bones on the wall and show us how they fit together – the vertebra and how they fit together to create a spine; leg bones; a skull; and he told us how he thought they got there.


And we never did make it to New Mexico!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wyoming - the Grand Tetons and Beyond

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was so taken with the setting between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, he bought up much of the surrounding lands to protect the area – and well understood!


It is so magnificent, it seems surreal . . . a concert in watercolours . . . oh, I wish I could paint!


The more we travel through the various regions: the more I become fascinated with the geology, like how these mountains erupted out of cracks in faults as the earth shifted between 60 and 70 million years ago and reach 13,770 feet above sea level.

In the Jackson Hole valley, glacial outwashes have left huge dimples (potholes) in the landscape believed to be cause by huge chunks of melted glacial ice.

Because of the way the mountains were formed, there are no foothills: the peaks rise right out of the sage covered plains. (



clip_image010 And the river runs through it! The Snake River that we always thought of as a Idaho river actually runs through the Grand Teton Park as well. This was a sign leading down to a boat ramp we just couldn’t ignore.

And the wild-life!


And the Lodges! This is a smaller, more intimate lodge at Jenny Lake.


This trip was partially about visiting friends and what could be better than the opportunity to visit friends of my folks as well as ours. Lorraine and Sandy lived in Lethbridge for a good number of years and their kids called my Mom and Dad Grandma and Grandpa.


They have a beautiful place in Pinedale, WY and hosted us for a few days. Thanks, you two!


The View from their back deck!

Sandy and me on the back deck!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Old Faithful is Old Faithful is Old Faithful is Old Faithful!

It’s spectacular . . . it’s dependable . . . it’s predictable!

Old Faithful is a geothermal showcase of Yellowstone.

Old Faithful is not the biggest or even the most predictable geyser in Yellowstone, but the eruption happens about every 50 to 120 minutes.

We were lucky; we had about a 5 minute wait to observe this amazing event. On the way over, we were surprised when the road was enveloped in fog and mist.


It cleared just as we approached Old Faithful.



is built over a geological hydrothermal phenomenon characterized by Geysers, Fumaroles, Hot Springs, and Mudpots.

Yellowstone Lake sits over the Yellowstone Caldera, a large active supervolcano that lies about 3-8 miles below the surface. Surface water from rain and snow seeps down to a layer of molten rock or magna. The resulting hot water and steam come to the surface as hot springs; fumaroles; and geysers.

A Hot Spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth's crust. (Wikipedia – Hot Springs -

Fumaroles (steam vents) are plumes of steam that come through the rocks to release pressure from the underground activity.

Mudpots are bubbling muddy clay spots that are formed through the action of micro-organisms converting hydro sulphide into sulphuric acid.

Geysers also originate as hot springs but because of constrictions, water is prevented from freely rising to the surface – thus the eruptions to clear the channels and allow the heat to dissipate.





Geyser – Old Faithful

Here are a few of the over 70 shots we took around the Old Faithful area.