Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mexico Bound

We have spent the last month or two doing some renovations and repairs on the Bus in preparation for our winter season in Mexico. As usual, we don't have a definite itinerary. We hope to cross at Nogales and head down the West Coast, then inland, and from there we'll see what beckons.
I will try to post regularly and share our adventures along the way.

The Grand Canyon - North Rim

We toured the South Rim several years ago but wanted to visit the North Rim, which offers a different Grand Canyon experience. It is more remote and less developed than the South Rim, and so attracts far fewer tourists. Many people think its viewpoints are more spectacular and offer a better idea of the expanse of the canyon. We agree.  The elevation at the North Rim is approximately 8000 feet, about 1000 feet higher than the South Rim. It is more difficult to access due to road closures during the winter season and the limited campgrounds are typically closed from October to April. There are several viewpoint where we could see the South Rim, approximately 10 miles away.

The weather on our first day was foggy and cloudy which produced a rather spectral appearance - very cool.

The weather on our second day was sunny and bright which gave us a totally different experience. It was great that things worked out the way they did and we were able to see the canyon both ways.

The Grand Canyon is known for its visually overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape. It is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and attains a depth of over a mile. There were several viewpoints where we could see the Colorado River far below.

We had several sightings of the Kaibab Squirrel. It lives in the ponderosa pine forest of the North Rim and the Kaibab Plateau near the town of Jacob Lake, where we stayed. I love the dark body and feathery white tail.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona.  It is possibly the most photographed sandstone slot canyon in the Southwest. There are two sections, the upper canyon and lower canyon. On our first visit four years ago we toured the upper canyon and hoped to do the lower canyon this year. Due to recent rains the lower canyon was closed but we certainly weren't disappointed with touring the upper canyon again.
Navajo guides take visitors on a pretty wild ride out to the canyon in vehicles similar to one in the photo above. They share the history, culture and geology of the canyon. It is a sacred place to the Navajo and it is treated with reverence and respect.          
Antelope Canyon was formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily from flash flooding but from wind as well. Rainwater and wind run into the slot canyon, pick up speed and sand in the narrow passageways, and over time erode the passages. This gives the rock a characteristic flowing shape.  The walk  through Antelope Canyon is narrow, but easy. Light enters through the top, creating fantastic shapes and colors.

On our first visit I took 134 photographs and on this visit I took 155. The photos don't do it justice, but hopefully will give some idea of what it is like. We highly recommend this experience.

Utah - Arches and Canyonlands

 Arches National Park
Arches is located just outside of Moab, Utah. It has the world's largest concentration of natural stone arches, estimated at  2,000 in this park alone. 
There are a variety of unique geological formations such as the group below known as 'The Three Gossips."

There are many examples of balancing rocks as well as leaning rocks.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands is also close to Moab. It has a colorful landscape that has been eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries. The majority of the park is viewed from on top of the Colorado Plateau. It  has been aptly described as "the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere" by author Edward Abbey, a frequent visitor. We would have to agree.
The more remote trails and canyon floors can only be reached by hikers, backpackers, 4-wheel-drive vehicles and rafters. Brian took the 100-mile White Rim Road at one time and it took him two days. The road  loops around and below the mesa top.  I just look at the road amazement and wonder. The vehicles far below look like little toys.
The trip usually takes two or three days in 4-wheel-drive vehicles or three to four days by mountain bike.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Such a beautiful state and home for so many years.
We enjoyed visiting with all of our friends in the Boulder area and even found a nice park to stay in near Lyons which was below the bluffs next to the St. Vrain River.
After leaving the Boulder area we spent some time visiting Marlene and Dan who have a great place in the small mountain town of Beulah, which is near Pueblo. It's a welcome stop and a really enjoyable place just to slow down a bit and enjoy being with our good friends. Always lots of laughter, good food and drink, and fun.

Our next stop was the Gunnison/Crested Butte area which has some truly breathtaking scenery. We made a repeat visit to both the north and south rims of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Some of the steepest cliffs in the U.S. are located here and it's somewhat difficult to even look over the side in some areas. One of the incredible features of the canyon is called the Painted Wall. If two Empire State Building were placed on top of each other at the foot of the canyon they would just barely clear the top of the Painted Wall. Hard to convey the weak-kneed feeling when looking over the edge.
On our way out of Colorado we stopped in Grand Junction, a place where we usually visit some of the wineries. This year we toured Colorado National Monument, a first for me. I was very impressed with the scenery and views.