Friday, January 11, 2019

Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque

We're staying at a new RV park that's about a 15 minute drive north of the towns of Chapala and Ajijic called Chapala RV Park. It's still under construction but our hookups are good (50 amp which is unusual). Once the park is done we think it will be very nice.

There is a nice common area, and bathrooms with showers and laundry are being built.

The park overlooks the city of Guadalajara and Lake Cajititlan, and is across the highway from the town Ixlahuacan. The views are great.

Chis and Juan joined us for a few days and the four of us took a day trip into Tlaquepaque, which is sort of a suburb of Guadalajara. I always enjoy going there - lots of galleries, museums, shops and restaurants. A pictorial tour of our day....

Christmas in Valle de Juarez

It's been a while since we spent the holidays in Valle de Juarez so we were happy to receive an invitation from Barb and Sal to a Christmas party there. Barb and Sal used to own the RV park in Valle de Juarez where we stayed on previous visits. We have some great memories of previous holidays there making tamales, taking great hikes, eating lots of good food, making new friends, and generally enjoying ourselves. Sal and Barb sold the RV park but have a beautiful house in town where they spend part of the winter.

It was great to see some of our RV friends that we haven't connected with in a while. There were four couples who stayed in RVs at another park near town, and quite a few former RVers made it to the party as well. The RV park we stayed at this year worked out well for us. It's called Victoria RV Park and now has a website with information about the park and surrounding area

Lots of fun, some pictures from the party...

Sal and Barb

Our group from the four RVs at the park this year - Paula and Jerry from Nova Scotia

Gail and Bill from Nova Scotia

 Chris and Juan from Monterrey, Mexico

and Sue and Brian 

Quite a few people at the party, here's a group shot 

It was a great way to spend the holiday, our thanks to Sal and Barb for getting all of us together for a mini reunion!

Arizona, San Miguel de Allende


It's been a long time since I've blogged so I'll do a quick catch up. We spent our time in Arizona this fall getting caught up with doctors appointments and working on a remodel of our Arizona room, which is kind of a screened in sunroom.  We painted the walls and put in a new beadboard ceiling.

Last year when we were in Dolores Hidalgo I bought a star light. Brian was able to wire it to the new ceiling fan and it turned out really well. I love the colors and light that shines through them.

San Miguel de Allende

We left for Mexico in early December, first parking spot San Miguel de Allende. We were there for almost two weeks. We did the usual walks around town, went to a great Christmas Jazz concert, and just generally enjoyed ourselves.

We happened to be there on the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a popular Catholic day that celebrates the belief that a man encountered the Virgin Mary, Mexico's patron saint, in Mexico City on December 9 and 12, 1531. We went to the parade in town which ended at the San Antonio Parroquia (church). All were looking to be blessed at the church on this day.

The parade began with some floats, mohigangas (giant paper-mache people) and clowns.

Next came a line of taxis to be blessed at the San Antonio church.

Following that was a large group of marchers from San Miguel, many carrying items with the Virgin of Guadalupe. Then came the horses of all sizes, quite a long line of them.

When the horses made the turn to go into the square we wondered how they would all fit. I guess they've done this before because they managed to line up around the square, took a while but it worked out.

The long line of marchers went through the church. Many of them left their items featuring the Virgin on the steps of the church to be blessed.

As we were leaving we passed a group of decorated tow trucks going to the church. I guess there wasn't any more room because they all ended up backing out of street leading to the church.

It was an interesting day, just one of many we seem to have in San Miguel.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Zion National Park

Zion is one of our favorites with its distinctive rock formations. Like a lot of the other national parks it's become crazy busy. To visit the main part of Zion you have to park and take shuttles, understandable with all the crowds. Unfortunately the waits to get on a shuttle were 30 minutes plus. We had been to the areas that require a shuttle several times and we wanted to avoid the long wait and big crowds so we spent most of our time on the east side of the park. This area doesn't require shuttles, and is not as busy.

We saw an amazing number of desert bighorn sheep on this trip. We started with a beautiful hike up the Overlook Trail. When we first started out we saw a bighorn family and encountered more along the trail. They don't seem to be bothered the least little bit by humans.

The trail ended at a stunning overlook, just as advertised.

The trail was fairly easy, passing through some interesting areas.

The other hikes we took were off the beaten track and we didn't see many people, but did see more bighorn sheep. This herd was up on the rocks above the canyon we were hiking in. It was fun to watch them jumping from rock to rock - very surefooted. One thing that was concerning is that we could see and hear them coughing. I looked on the internet and found out that there is some type of bacterial pneumonia infecting some of the sheep. While it can't be treated and no sheep have been known to have died, the website did ask anyone who witnessed excessively coughing sheep to report it, so I did.

 We saw another large herd near the road.

On another day we saw this ram and what appeared to be his mate.

He was pushing her and trying to get her to move to another spot.  I guess he just gave up and walked away from her, then she took off on her own.

We did some other hiking outside of the park. We took a trail up to a small slot canyon called Red Hollow. It was a pretty easy hike to the entrance and through the first part of the canyon.

Once we got into the canyon there were several large boulders to climb over - fortunately someone had hauled in a pallet which provided some crude steps to help in getting over the first set of boulders. The second one pretty well stopped us. We're just not as young as we like to think we are.

We've enjoyed doing more hiking this summer and Zion is a great place for it. It takes a bit of planning to get away from the crowds but it can be done.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce is right up there among our favorite national parks, so it's always worth another visit. It has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. Hoodoos are tall, skinny rock towers that are formed by erosion. Photographs don't do them justice. The photo below is from an area called the amphitheater which has thousands of them.

We spent some time driving along the main park road, stopping at the overlooks and doing some short hikes. Stunning views abound.

We spent one morning hiking the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trails which were rated as one of the top ten hikes in the U.S. by National Geographic a few years ago. The Queen's Garden Trail winds its way down from the rim to Queens Garden at the bottom. The photo below shows the beginning of the hike as people begin the descent.

The trail winds through the hoodoos and has several arches to pass through.

The Queens Garden Trail ends at a rock formation that is remarkably similar to a statue of Queen Victoria wearing her crown and long dress. The statue is somewhere in England, I'm not sure of the exact spot.

At this point the trail joins the Navajo Loop. We hiked along the canyon floor, enjoying the sights, and got ready to do our 550 foot ascent. Fortunately the ascent has switchbacks but it's still a long way to the top.

Looking up, the people look like little ants.

The view looking down from about halfway up the switchbacks.

Almost to the top and still smiling.


The drive through the park ends at a viewpoint called Rainbow Point. We took a hike from there called the Bristlecone Trail. When we started the hike we noticed a few firefighters and their vehicles, but the trail wasn't closed. When got to Rainbow Point we could look out and see smoke.

We had been aware of increasing smoke in the area and knew there was a fire (actually 2) in the park but the fires hadn't affected us. As we continued along the trail we talked to some firefighters who were clearing brush. They told us that the policy was not to suppress the fires unless they approached structures or a public area. We continued along the trail, seeing more firefighters coming down, and when we got back to the parking lot the number of vehicles and personnel had greatly increased. The winds were quite strong and it was evident that the fire was spreading. We stopped at one of the overlooks and watched as the fire exploded.

We were never close enough to be in any danger, but the smoke was pretty thick that afternoon, even back at our RV park. As we understand it, the firefighters were protecting Rainbow Point. The parking lot has restrooms and a few other structures. We were told that there was a sprinkler system up there that would be used to keep the fire away. The latest update as of 9/24 is that 'The Riggs and Lonely fires are currently active along the park's southeastern boundary. These fires are being monitored while they perform their natural role in a fire-dependent ecosystem.' Several trails are still closed, but as of this weekend the road to Rainbow Point is open during the day.

What's in a name

One of my favorite stories is about how Bryce Canyon got its name. Sometime in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s Ebenezer Bryce moved into the Paria Valley, just east of the present day national park. One day while searching for his cattle Ebenezer, a pioneer rancher, stumbled onto the main amphitheater of Bryce Canyon. You’d think that he would have something dramatic to say about what he saw on this occasion, but his only comment on record was “It’s one hell of a place to lose a cow.” People were more practical about life in the days of Ebenezer Bryce and scenery was likely far less important than scratching out a living in an arid and higher elevation climate. Soon the word must have spread about the canyon and locals began calling the place Bryce’s Canyon.