Texas, and Oklahoma – Lousy Internet

April 24, 2014

Haven’t blogged because we haven’t had a decent internet connection since we left New Mexico.  We have basically been riding I-40 since we left Canyon de Chelly through New Mexico, Texas, and the very long drive through Oklahoma.  Last night we camped near Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Our night in Texas was at Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo.  Texas in general in this area is pretty barren.  We had planned to stay two days but there were no leaves on the trees and it was very hot.  The canyon, like Canyon de Chelly, was a big gash in the middle of miles and miles of flat, scubby range land.  It is a good sized canyon but after seeing the land around Moab and northern Arizona, we were underwhelmed and moved on.

There is a big contrast between the Texas landscape and Oklahoma.  Everything greens up as soon as you enter Oklahoma.  We had trouble finding camping so ended up in a motel in Weatherford where we stayed two nights to avoid thunderstorms and the worst of the wind.  The prevailing southerly winds are constant and driving either east or west is a challenge.  The trees along the I-40 corridor all lean to the north even when there is no wind.  They grow that way.

Arkansas was again an immediate change in landscape with everything in bloom.  The information center at the border was filled with beautiful azaleas and dogwood and crabapple trees in full color.  We stayed at Springhill, an Army Corp of Engineers campground.  There were lots of birds and a flock of Canadian geese complete with babies.

Now we are on a dash to North Carolina to avoid another round of thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.

It’s all good!



We would have made lousy pioneers!

April 20, 2014  Happy Easter!

Sitting in a motel in Gallup New Mexico after taking a very long shower and eating a great Mexican food dinner.  We had talked about another day hiking in Canyon de Chelly but there are no showers at the canyon campground and we already had two great hiking days in Moab so showers had become the top obsession of the day.

On Thursday we saw our first petroglyphs and dinosaur footprints just outside Moab on Potash Road.  They were found when the road was built for a potash mine.  The road runs right along the Colorado River,  They are high enough up on the rock wall so they don’t interfere with the road and the crazies can’t damage them.

Further down the road we hiked to another site to see Bowtie Arch and Corona Arch, about three miles round trip.  We got pretty confident about jumping around on the mostly rock trail.  Even had a place where you had to hang onto a cable while walking sideways for about twenty feet.  We didn’t make it clear to the arches which would have involved cabling straight up and climbing a ladder but we got good views of the arches.  As with everywhere we’ve been since leaving California, the desert flowers are blooming and there is lots of greenery to accent the colorful stone.  It was another great adventure.

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In the afternoon we drove over to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park.  The “island” is a large area of land between two major canyons. In one, the Colorado runs and in the other, the Green River. At the end of the high land, Grand View, both of the canyons join as the Green River runs into the Colorado.  I’ve run out of superlatives to talk about these unbelievably beautiful areas.

More pics tomorrow…we have a slow connection.

Friday, we drove south to Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona.  It was a cloudy, windy day and we were pretty tired after the drive and ended up resting for the day.

Yesterday was beautiful and we set out to check out the overlooks on the south side of the canyon.  We were fortunate to be there early enough to have some time to ourselves at this amazing place and we got to talk to several of the locals about the area and their life in and around the canyon.  The canyons in this area are much smaller so that you can clearly see the trees on the other side.  At the bottom of the canyon there are farms and roads and animals grazing. The cottonwood trees are just now leafing out along the shallow Chinle Wash.  At several points, the ancient ruins of the Anasazi can be seen both in the canyon and high on the canyon walls in caves.  A truly amazing place.

Today, after a motel night, we drove to Santa Rosa Lake State Park in New Mexico.  Bye-bye mountains for a while.  Hello flat, barren land as far as the eye can see.  Well, there are a few hills and golden grass and green scrubby bushes.

It’s all good!

The Arches National Park

April 16, 2014

Today was another magical day.  The Arches National Park is absolutely mind blowing.  We meandered its roads, stopping at all the scenic views.   Ate lunch at the trail head to Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch and then hiked to both, about two miles.  There was a lot of traffic in the park, especially at the popular sites, like the Windows, Devil’s Playground, and Delicate Arch.  This is Easter week and schools in the area are on Spring break so there were quite a few families out and about.  But when we got to Broken Arch we had the place to ourselves for about a half hour and we truly enjoyed being by ourselves in the midst of all the beauty.

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We were fortunate to be here when many flowers were blooming and it became a challenge to get pictures of some we saw but couldn’t stop to photograph.  In the end we got most of them, I think.

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There are five national parks in southern Utah and one could certainly spend at least a month here and never get bored.  We might just do that sometime.

It’s all good!

Spaces and Mesas

April 15, 2014

Yesterday was interesting.  We spent most of the day at the Family Research Library in Salt Lake City looking for lost ancestors.  Didn’t find any but picked up a few new bits of information and learned some new strategies for searching.  Walked around the downtown mall and Temple Square.  It was certainly nice seeing lots of flowers and the trees in bloom.

This morning we got off early and headed south to Moab, Utah.  It was another awesome drive down the Salt Lake Valley and over the Wasatch mountains at Solder Pass.  Lots of snow still on the mountain tops.  On the other side it’s back into desert but the difference this time is that there are mesas and canyons everywhere.  US Rt 6 is well worth the drive. The highlight of the drive was the road off I-70 coming into Moab.  The cliffs on either side of the road are red rock and very high.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

We are staying in a funky park south of Moab and looking forward to exploring The Arches National Park tomorrow.

It’s all good!

Lesson Learned

April 13, 2014

Today was supposed to be our day to check out Salt Lake City but we awoke to rain and wind, not so good for site-seeing.  No problem, let’s do chores.  Trek needed an oil change and tires rotated so we headed off to Wally World with a grocery list.  After that was completed we found a Dunkin’s, the first since Flagstaff.  Boy, did that cup of coffee taste good!  Chores done, let’s go home.

This is the sad part.  Everywhere we have gone, we have left things at the campsite rather than pack everything only to unpack it on our return.  When we returned today, our water hose, sewer hoses and connectors, bucket with rubber gloves and a few other things were gone.  We checked with the camp office and the maintenance person but they did not have our stuff.  Evidently someone just took it.  Probably thought we accidentally left it.  Anyway, it was gone.

So off we went to Camping World and Wal-mart to replace our water and sewer equipment.  The good news is, from traveling, we now know exactly what we need and we made a few quality upgrades.  And we won’t be leaving stuff at campsites unattended in the future.

We did get a few pictures while driving, even though many of the mountains were shrouded in clouds, just to show some of the scenery in the city.  We experienced rain, hail, a rainbow, gusty winds, and white, puffy clouds with blue sky all within about ten miles.

It’s all good!



Hello Salt Lake City

April 12, 2014

Mountains and valleys, mountains and valleys.  Crossing the Great Basin in Nevada is like driving in a parking lot with speed bumps, only going 60 miles per hour and the speed bumps have snow on their tops.  Then, as you drive off the last bump, you roll into Utah and the Bonneville Salt Flats.  It looks like snow but it’s salt for as far as you can see.  What looks to be water in the distance is only a mirage.  There are a few left over mountains scattered about and they sort of float on the salty mirage.  Very surreal.

Salt and water – hard to get perspective of flat stuff in pictures.  And certainly impossible to express the wow factor of the scenery.

Beyond the salt flats is the southern end of the Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City.  The city is in a valley between two snow capped mountain ranges and no matter where you are there is a picture post card scene to enjoy.

We are nicely settled in an urban RV park for a couple of days, one day to explore and another to check out the genealogy library to track down a few lost ancestors.

It’s all good!

Back in the Desert

April 11, 2014

Up early this morning and on the road by 9:00 AM. Well, that’s early for us. We are most certainly back in the desert. The highway from Reno to Elko, Nevada is long, hot and dry and there are very few towns. Sometimes you can see the highway ahead for miles as it winds between the mountain ranges. There are a couple of passes but for the most part it is flat ground surrounded by mountains, some still with snow on the peaks.

We were especially looking forward to this drive because it passes Rye Patch State Recreational Park. Rye Patch, Nevada was where my great-great grandmother, Jane Richards, came in the 1870’s, from Cornwall, England, to marry my great-great grandfather, Will Carpenter. They had two children, my great grandmother, Lilly, and her brother, William, in Rye Patch. Sometime later they moved to Butte, Montana where Jane ran a rooming house for miners. My grandfather stayed at her house and married her granddaughter, my grandmother.

Rye Patch, which was located along the Humboldt River, is no longer a town but the railroad still runs by and there are a few residences and the state park. In the 1800’s it was a booming mining town. Both my great-great grandparents were miners in Cornwall from the time they were about ten years old. I find it amazing that they came all this way to live and work in the desert and then ventured off to Montana to another boomtown.

We are staying at the finest Wal-Mart hotel in Elko so far in our adventures. We are enjoying the mountain view and listening to the Red Sox.

It’s all good!