Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winnemucca, Runamucca!

Travelling north to Winnemucca, NV, we went over 300 miles (okay, in a moho this is a long way!) from Ely.  There wasn't too much of the "scenic highway" on this days journey.  We have time to note unusual situations and see immediately that we are swimming upstream!  Since it is late October, we encounter MANY RV'ers headed south for the winter...the proverbial snowbirds are migrating...we are definitely bucking the trend!

Honestly, we had only two or three cars/trucks go around us -- we only go about 50-55 mph-- and we encounter lots and lots of folks going the other way.  Most are moho's with toads (towed vehicles behind moho's), some 5th wheels and a variety of "others."  As a side note, when we get to RV Parks, we talk to other folks as we hook-up and unhook at the site and the chatter is mostly about the weather (much wind?  have you heard the forecast for X?)  and where we've just been.  We use tripadvisor.com for restaurant recommendations in each city we visit, along with the local folks recommendations.  We've been lucky in Winnemucca, as we choose to eat breakfast out at The Griddle--the busiest place in town at 9:30 am on Sunday.  It was your typical small town diner (which really have the best breakfasts!).  The morning menu was huge, and included choices with french toast or pancakes with the usual eggs, breakfast meat and coffee.  Jeff had hashbrowns with eggs and sausage and I tried the french toast.  When it came, I couldn't believe the size of the french toast!  It came on a separate plate with real maple syrup and whipped butter.  My eggs and bacon were on a separate plate that was smaller than my french toast plate!!  I could only eat 2/3 of one french toast, but YUMMMM!!!  Jeff kindly ;-)  helped me out with the rest of it!

We found that Winnemucca has many interesting festivals and celebrations..one of which is the "Run-a-mucca"...a run/walk/bike for charity that is a big draw in the area and a cause for celebration.  It's a charming use of their city name to promote a charity run---good for them!

Hiking was in order after this gastronomic extravaganza...so we headed out to the Water Canyon area.  Some very nice homes out this way with acreage and beautiful white fences for their livestock.  We parked at the end of the road, where there were two picnic spots (other picnic areas we had passed on the way in...so picturesque along the stream and with beautiful deciduous trees showing their fall colors).

We started out on our hike....
We really enjoyed the quiet beauty of the stream, which we traversed several times, and the serenity of the draw.  We saw recent coyote scat and heard many birds along the way.  We had a fairly good climb on the way in and saw where 4-wheeler/ATVers had come in the past.  We rejoiced in our luck of being the only ones on the trail both up and back and got back in our car feeling like we had a good "close-in" wilderness experience.  We then headed back downtown and as we passed the entrance to the park we saw a group of probably 25 ATVs at a group picnic site having lunch and getting ready to head out!  We dodged a bullet!!!

Back at the ranch, we changed clothes and went into town--Jeff to gamble and me to watch the Seahawks--okay, switch it!  We got there about 1/2 time and Jeff watched the second half while I played Lobstermania (the game GA introduced me to) and Crabmania (yuk!).  Also, I told my Mom that I would play $20 for her on video poker (we used to play video poker together when I would go with them to Reno up until 20 years ago or so).  I put in the $20 and it wasn't paying well at all, so I eeked out $15 and said that's it!  On Lobstermania I did better but the Seahawks game was long and lousey and and I hate NFL football!  Soo, I lost my winnings.  But I did win the half-time drawing of $25!  AND I have a chance to win a Polaris ATV!!  I'm pretty excited about that (just kidding)!

So off to Baker City, Oregon and then to G&G's (what we call my parents, age 97 and 93, grandma and grandpa to Bill and Caroline, hence G&G).  We'll get an early start tomorrow and then have a 327 mile drive to Baker.  That's a lot for a wimp like me in a moho!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Beehive ovens in Ely and on to Winnemucca!

On the road to Ely (EElee), we were inundated with monotonous roads--by this I mean narrow roads, straight as a string and maybe 10 cars in 150 miles!  My word!  We did our best to observe the surroundings, but we were happy to see a few cows as we got closer to Ely!  This road was open range, and later we saw the real-deal cowboys...those that make their living "roundin' up the doggies" and doing the rodeo circuit!

Lots of mountains to overcome--lots of uppy/downy stuff and arid surroundings.  We are always aware of the water situation in the SW---how little there is (normally), how important it is to all crops, wildlife, seasonal changes, and just folks.  We also are aware of the washes that must be extremely full and rushing during the monsoons, which we understand can come on in a moments notice.

We have encountered many hunters in the last few days---and beautiful fall colors. One of the fun things we saw along the trip was the traditional Berma Shave signs, but done by a farmer: 

we played ball
and climbed trees
but now kids can't play
without batteries!

As we got closer to Ely we saw many farmers trying to get the last harvest of their alfalfa and then passed over the last of 4 passes:  Connors Pass (the name of our grandson). 

We went to dinner at the "Jailhouse"--we actually sat in a jail cell with a door that slides shut!  This was a bit of a worry!  We had a very good steak dinner with a baked potato and salad..we took a whole baked potato home and had more leftovers.  Very fun!  

Next day we visited the beautiful area surrounding Ely and took a trip to the Ward Charcoal Ovens.   This is a state historic park that was interesting!  The beehive-shaped ovens produced charcoal from pinyon pine and juniper.  The Ovens operated from 1876 to 1979, the silver boom years of the area.  After they served their purpose as charcoal ovens, they sheltered stockmen and prospectors during bad weather and provided a hideout for stagecoach bandits.

Now they are a part of the State Monument system and are very unique!

We also took a good hike through this area, and ended up in back of the ovens!

Really a good stop.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Surprise, Surpise!!

We had a nice evening at the moho, planning our hikes for the next day, having a huge salad and left-over pasta, watching NCIS and doing Halloween cards for the g-kids.  I  snapped this shot from our moho as the sun set on our Tuesday:

WELL!!  Best laid plans!   We woke up the next morning to this!!!

After feeling the pain (it was 60 degrees yesterday, 25 this morning!) we decided to launch on the scenic tour of Bryce and bag the 2-hour hike we planned.  We had wanted to do the Navajo/Wall Street loop but because of the snow, we decided against it.  I had purchased gloves at Target in Tucson for $4.99 because I thought they were a good deal, but Jeff had no gloves.. he bested me with a warmer coat, however, so it was a draw as to who was least prepared for this weather!

Heading into the park (we were less than 1 mile out), we show our Senior Pass and head to the first site after Sunrise/Sunset area (which we hiked the day before) Inspiration Point.  It is about 26 degrees now and the snow is slowly subsiding but it's very windy. Our elevation is about 8000'.

Next stop is Bryce Point, where we viewed this beautiful hoodoo:

After stopping at several short trails we see lots of examples of the skiff of snow we just received.

So many beautiful spots here in Bryce.  We had no idea!  We were recounting our favorite National Parks and find it hard to narrow down to the top five.  For me, it includes Glacier, Bryce, Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah and either Joshua Tree or Yellowstone.  For Jeff: Bryce, Crater Lake, Glacier, Yellowstone and the Tetons.  It's hard to eliminate Arches NP, as we were reminded of as we viewed Natural Bridge in Bryce:

We continue to marvel at the beautiful sandstone erosion swirls...(ok, that's my terminology!)

When we are frozen and have about 4000 steps, we head down (the highest spot we visited was 9115') to the Bryce Canyon Lodge area and try to make reservations for dinner.  They don't take reservations but we aren't thwarted and journey back to our moho to drop Casey Noodle off after a nice long walk and then go back to see the Bryce Canyon City area (touristy) but hey, it's 25 degrees!!

Note in the photo below, Jeff is in gunslinger garb but has covered the face of the female...doesn't matter what face is there???!! ;-)

Note that I leave my partner blank! 

We have been happy to see so many folks in the Park so late, but almost exclusively older couples or tours.  We had a good dinner at the Bryce Park Lodge:

We had previously checked out the cute cabins at the Lodge, built during the depression, again by the CCC.

We are excited to travel tomorrow to Ely (pronounced EE-lee) Nevada and hopefully leave the ultra cold weather and snow/ice.  It's a bit of a concern with the Beast!  Blog tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Holy Cow...Bryce is NYCE!

Before we left Zion, we were reflecting on what a huge change from Las Vegas we encountered as we headed to Zion National Park.  Neon lights, sensory overload, great food.....to beauty everywhere, more self-reliance, more hiking, seeing the night sky--all in a matter of a very few hours. 

As we drive out of Zion NP, we have a 1.1 mile tunnel we must go through that requires RV's to have an escort (you pay $15 for this). With this you can travel the tunnel in the middle so you don't peel the lid off your moho!  Because of the switchbacks on Highway 9 (and the tunnel), we detached the car and broke out the walkie-talkies...those of you who have been following our travels for a while know  that this is not a good omen........I tried to get pictures of the switchbacks but was thwarted in that quest.  Instead, I snapped this as we are waiting to travel the tunnel (as many of you know, built by the CCC and designed for the vehicles of the 1930's).  We were fervently hoping there was not an earthquake or rock slide!

We did much better on this tunnel than the one in Yosemite...still the moho needed to be straddling the midline.  There is no way we could have traveled in the right lane the whole way without crashing!  Out the other side, we are confronted with beautiful sandstone waves--still in Zion, but near the eastern entrance of the park. 

WOW!!!!!    We are again overwhelmed!

As we continue with hairpins, we are traveling at 15-20 mph, as much for the  views as the road....

Still in the eastern portion of Zion, we are treated to walls of sweeping erosive sandstone:

Our last great view of Zion is the Checkerboard Mesa so famous in the area.

As we're travelling to Bryce NP, we are amazed at the difference right out of Zion----- so different!

First glimpse of the red canyon...

We land at our park for the next couple of nights:  Ruby's RV Park.  This was begun by Ruby Syrett and his family in 1916.  He established a ranch nearby and discovered the beauty of Bryce and then began hosting visitors.  By 1919 they had established a "Tourist Rest"--a tent serving meals to travellers.  1923 brought recognition as a National Monument for Bryce and then the building of the Inn began.   Soon it expanded to include groceries, restaurant, laundry and information desk/post office.

We have had very good weather so far in our fall trip, no winds like spring, which delayed and detoured us many times (scroll down to the beginning to read our harrowing--for us--travels in wind, rain, snow and hail!)  We are hearing a storm is on the way and we will have 27 tonight (we must detach the water hose so it doesn't freeze tonight)...rain and wind is coming our way, and we noted this as it comes toward us as we are hiking the Sunset/Sunrise trail this afternoon.

We feel pretty organized tonight, as we did our daily travel, two loads of wash, toured the visitor center, museum and viewed the "Bryce Canyon" movie, hiked the Sunset/Sunrise trail (with Casey Noodle, who attracted a lot of oohs and aahs!) and got our gas for the next days scenic travels and hiking. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zuper Zion!!!

On the way to Zion, we had little in the way of views, so I finished reading the cool cookbook Bill and Marcy gave me for my birthday.  Jeff does a good job of keeping us on the right road and brings us through St. George and to our Zion Park RV Resort.  Nice!  We're excited because there are fire pits and we can have an evening fire!

Next morning, we're off to the park.  Casey is with us and it's pretty warm so we're thinking we'll just keep the air conditioning on as we stop along the scenic drive through the park.  We arrive and find that we cannot drive it and must take the shuttle for any hiking/scenic drive/sightseeing.  There is, however, a cute doggie day care just 3.7 miles back, so we call ahead and can get Casey Noodle in at "Doggie Dude Ranch" for the day.  We brought along his vaccination info, so he's in.  Off we go to do our hiking and sightseeing!

We took the shuttle to the end of the scenic drive, hearing the spiel of the origins of the park (the early Ancestral Puebloans then the Southern Paiute, followed by the Mormon pioneers in the 1860's) prior to the official National Park designation.  Amazingly, there is an average of 5,000 tons of sediment/day carried along the Virgin River (the river that carved the Zion canyon)--but most of it occurs during the extreme flash flooding in the summer monsoons.  There are more than 270 different birds in the park, including the rare California condor with the 9 foot wing span!!

Hiking the Riverside walk up to the Narrows, we saw so many gorgeous views!!

This was a nice hike, and again we encounter so many foreign visitors!  Many more than US residents.  Everywhere we look we are so in awe...as a friend said when they traveled here years ago, you can't decide which is the most beautiful view!  We had a very hard time trying to decide which pictures to include!

We also hiked the Emerald Pools Middle Trail in the afternoon and were again just so appreciative of the foresight of our nation to set aside these beautiful places for everyone to enjoy!

At day's end off we went to collect Casey Noodle.  I didn't think they were going to let us take him home!  They cooed and purred over how well he did, how sweet he was, how well behaved...(to be honest I wondered if they would bring out the wrong dog!).  We decided to let the "dude" stay at the "ranch" the next day and made arrangements. 

Back at our own ranch, we had a fire in our firepit, bbq'd some burgers with all the trimmings and homemade coleslaw, fired up the laptop and blogged!  So nice to have a fire in the evening, although we were invaded by small flying bugs (bigger than nosee-ems) for about an hour.

Next morning, we're off on our adventure after dropping the dude off.  Our plan of attack was biking the scenic drive, hiking the Weeping Rock trail and then having our packed lunch at the Human History Museum picnic area.  Off on our bikes!

Our hike to Weeping Rock was spectacular, and really produced some fab views!

On our last section of biking we came across this beautiful spot to stop and have a look and an "ahh" moment!

Back to the car, load up the bikes and off to get Casey after viewing the Human History Museum and the Zion movie in the theater.  On the way we stopped at Springdale (what a really charming town---nestled right up to the canyon walls and just picture-perfect) so Jeff could check out the gem and rock shops.  He does rock tumbling in the garage--he was looking for different rocks to take home to tumble.  We brought the two grandboys rocks he tumbled (Ryan got "Greenies" and Connor got "Dinosaur eggs").

A U-Pick apple orchard caught our eye and we stopped and checked it out--what a gorgeous setting!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Beast in Las Vegas and Beyond....

So we have had a hard time connecting out here in Zion National Park...trying to catch up from Las Vegas!  So now we have connection and are catching up on the last few days!

Coming out of Wickenburg, we arrive at the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort for a four-day stay.  We're lucky, as we were able to get in here with only one month advance reservation.  It's about 5 miles from Caesar's, where the ACEC (national engineering association) meetings are being held.  We're pretty impressed with the sandy beach pool with spa, adult pool, restaurant with casino (5 slots!!), 18-hole putting course, boccie court and karaoke area!!  Whahoo!!

We're here for 4 nights and are excited to show our friends from the east coast (also attending the ACEC conference) our moho and how we live on the road.  Taking the strip into town is an adventure, as we find out after the breakfast sessions and are heading back to Caesar's and a short respite at the Beast. This makes us think it will be too hard to bring friends out, as it will be an hour and 20 minute round trip!!     We're heading back to attend Opening Reception, and this is what we see:

Note the red convertible and the over-the-top, typical-of-Las Vegas sensory overload!  Jeff is cool under pressure, though, driving like the Dalai Lama:

We had a great conference: visiting with friends and gambling a bit; talked a bit, laughed a lot!  Here are some of them with me during the closing reception:

It's a bit out of focus on Gerry Ann, probably because we couldn't get her to stop laughing!!

It's so interesting to go to Las Vegas, as most of you know.  There are a tremendous amount of concerts, shows and edgy entertainment, and of course, gambling.  I normally gravitate toward the blackjack tables, but since we had a minimum amount of time for gambling given friend-time, conference, etc.  I just gambled an hour or so/day, no blackjack, just slots.  I'm not very familiar with the new slots---do you know what I mean?  You go to the slot area, you look around, and you think "Am I just stupid or are these slots ridiculously complicated??  Don't people come here to relax?   I played the Alice in Wonderland slot the most, only because I thought the slot had a soothing voice and I felt comfortable with a fairy tale theme!!!

It was SOO nice to see so many folks we haven't seen in some time and catch up on grandchildren, travels, other friends and what's coming next! 

The last night we were there we attended the Closing Reception and really enjoyed ourselves, but it was bittersweet.  We won't see Jane and Bob and GA and Eric and Karen and Mac and everyone else for some time.  We hope to entice them to our neck of the woods!!!

After we got back to the moho, we thought it would be fun to catch the tailend of the karaoke night at the RV Park!!  We thought it would be a hoot and we would be there 10 minutes.  As we get there, a Jimmy Buffett song is being sung by someone who sounds EXACTLY like Buffett!  We sit down and are treated to another great song and performer and then the next table sees we are enjoying it and their harmonica player comes over and accompanies the singer just for us!!! OMG!  He was fabulous!

We were treated to another woman singing very well, and then back to the previous table next to us, where the harmonica player is now the karaoke singer and doing SUCH a good job!  We talk to them further and find they are from Canada (BC) and Issaquah, near us.  It was such an unexpected treat and really, really good music.  They would have won on America's Got Talent!!
We're constantly amazed at the talent that we come across in unlikely places:  for instance, on Lopez Island, where we have a small, home-made cabin, we review the grocery store bulletin board and find lessons available in steel guitar, harp, ballet, Russian, hot yoga and pastels!  This is on an island of 1800 permanent residents!

Here's the moho at the Park ready to head out:

We'll catch up with Zion for readers tomorrow, now that we have connections back in place. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lorena turns 39 AGAIN!

After we returned to the Beast Sunday night (we babysat while Bill and Marcy had a well-deserved dinner out), we were reflecting on our time in Tucson and how much we enjoyed our time and the Catalina State Park.  When we had Bill and family over for BBQ hamburgers etc on Saturday, it was interesting for Connor (age 3) to see our moho, since he had been told that we were traveling and living in our moho.   He kept thinking we were living in our car...which may not be far from reality if the real estate market doesn't turn around!!! (just kidding).  It was fun showing him the moho and him seeing how it's like a little home (Ryan was the same in figuring out  our abode...many questions!!)

Anyway, the coyotes are abundant here---at night you can hear the pack howling their pleasure and the yipping of the young ones.  We could see their scat just feet from our beast's doorstep, plus the many sightings of huge jackrabbits---those things are ridiculous!

Heading out for Wickenburg, AZ, we first had to stop by the dump station and empty our tanks.  We had a pretty boring and hot ride to Florence, where we noted the big prison there, with concertina wire at three different levels on the 15-20' fence surrounding it.  There was also a less intense area with only the top level concertina wire and within these grounds were many acres of produce growing.  There was also a "Prison Outpost" where their produce was sold.

From Florence it was more interesting as we anticipated the Phoenix area looonng commute through to get to W 60.  We reflected on some of the great places we had just been through in AZ.  We had just passed Silly Mountain Rd prior to getting to our turn to Wickenburg, preceded by a whole slue of rather wild-west shoot-out sounding locations:  there was the Outlaws Mini Mart first, then Superstition Mountain Drive, Horsethief Basin, Deadman Wash, and then Bloody Basin Rd.....yikes!

I prefer the town of Bumble Bee, not far from the Curl-up and Dye hair salon, and then in Wickenburg the All Tressed Out salon...

We passed the Tom Mix memorial as we were driving...do any of you remember your parents talking about Tom Mix?  I remember my father saying to my childhood inquiry as to where he's been:  "I've just seen Tom Mix in 'Cement'"....I didn't really get it then, but after seeing the Tom Mix memorial, I see that having appeared in some 300 silent movies, Tom Mix was in just about everything in my father's day!

We arrived in Wickenburg and were given a nice spot in the RV Park, settled in and then explored the town via the Chamber and their printed walking tour.

We then realized the time and went directly to the museum, which was really a good one--housing much wild-west memorabilia, western art, old western store and home examples and very exuberant docents!

Casey Noodle forgot my birthday card (his quote:  "deer mom:  dad fergut ur krd frm mee--hez sorre!!) but I still love him ;-).  We had a nice, pretty authentic Mexican dinner at the Ranchero, and then got a call from Caroline wishing me a happy birthday!