Moving Down Arizona

Friday 30th October 2020

Goodbye Colorado! We have had a wonderful time hiking in your mountain ranges this summer.

There are several Ancient ruins near Flagstaff.

The National Park Service has done a great job preserving the integrity of the ruins.

I found a nice cool shady spot.

It always amazes me how flowers can grow in adverse conditions. These hardy bloomers are thriving in a lava field.

Montezuma Castle is 100 feet above the valley. I wonder where the escalator attaches to the rock face.

Many shops are back in business. This hair salon was busy.

We took a quick trip up to the Grand Canyon and walked along the rim for a bit.

It never fails to impress.

There are a lot of areas close to Flagstaff that have suffered from wildfires in recent years. I guess there will be many more crispy forests out west after this fiery summer.

Someone creatively attached fallen wood to make a nice comfy bench. I really appreciated the sit down.

On our way south we we stopped for a few days near Phoenix. Hiking in the desert took on a surreal look.

Large swathes of cactus were burned to a nub in this area. Wildfires have taken their toll on so much this year.

We moved down to Yuma for a week. Time for dental work. I had two chipped front teeth and Dean had two disintegrating old crowns to replace. We’ve gotta stay away from the super crunchy stuff.

It was super easy crossing the border and returning was a breeze . Not too many snowbirds in Yuma at the moment.

Most of the people in town were masked up.

The waiting room has some seriously red furniture.

Dr. Ernesto did great work on both of us. We are back to dental goodness.

Finally a nice cool day so we took a hike round Muggins Peak, a few miles east of Yuma. I think we must have hiked round this mini mountain at least 6 times over the years.

I spotted a neat looking barrel cactus growing horizontally out of the cliff. I asked Dean to take a closer look.

He being the good sport scrambled up the rock face to confirm the the spiky succulent was indeed growing out instead of up.

Moving on to Indio California. We will be settled into one campground for the whole winter. It will be the first time we have spent 5 months in one place since we started full time traveling in 2004. I hope I don’t get too twitchy.

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Southern Colorado

Monday 7th September 2020

We really liked Creede! It was a thriving mining town back in the day. Also it has the only decent grocery store within 50 miles.

Many of the houses reminded us of Homer, Alaska. This owner was thinking outside the box or should I say fence.

Even the ice skating building had character.

Curling stones Creede style.

The fire department had a great spot.

Driving through town the road turns to gravel and heads up the mountain.

There were several old abandoned mines precariously perched on the cliffs.

After a rocky, lumpy, bumpy ride we finally made it to a trailhead leading to a section of the Continental Divide Trail.

A few miles at over 12,000 feet is always invigorating.

I like to add my bit to the many Cairns on the trails.

We had a great campsite for a few days overlooking a horse paddock. Bears were regular visitors at night. So frequent in fact that the campground electrified the trash containers at night.

This guy was the closest we got to seeing any wildlife. In the back country the cattle are just left to roam about.

The 3100 hundred mile Continental Divide Trail runs 850 miles through Colorado. We managed to hike at least 50 miles in the lower sections. We would love to hike the whole thing but would need at least 20 Llamas to carry all the gear. Also someone to pitch the tents and fix the grub would be nice.

This stretch had so many dead trees due to beetle attack.

Five miles in we found the perfect place for lunch and a rest.

There are so many peaks. Colorado has over 50 that beat 14,000 foot mark!

This was a long stretch of trail winding around a huge mountain.

We were thrilled to meet up with our good friends Leslie and Stuart. They loved the Continental Divide trail too.

It is supposed to start snowing here tomorrow evening so we are packing up and making a hasty retreat to lower elevations.

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Corner of Utah and Colorado Mountains

Wednesday 12th August 2020

We found a great spot to spend the night by Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Northwest Utah. We were the only ones in the whole campground. All that goodness for only $6.50.

Moving towards Vernal we saw a train pulling a gazillion windmill wings. I snapped this pic through the camper window in passing and only managed to get a few of them. Wind power is still doing well out west.

Vernal, a small town in the northwest corner of Utah had the most beautiful display of flowers. All the main streets were loaded with lovely displays like this. Every planter had the same pink and mauve color theme. Whoever was watering and feeding these plants was doing a fabulous job.

We had a nice hike in Dinosaur National Monument. Didn’t see any dinosaurs but this lengthy Kingsnake sunbathing across our trail was a bonus.

It was getting pretty toasty at the lower desert elevations so we drove up to this pretty hike at over 10,000 feet.

After reaching 11,000 feet the trail was all on a ridge. The views in both directions were great.

We finally made it back to Ouray, Colorado. We were there in June and hiked at the base of Mount Sneffels. I really wanted to return and hike to the top and snag a 14,000 foot mountain. The last several hundred feet was very dodgy looking shale so we decided to not risk it. I had the sniffles because I couldn’t top Sneffels.

We did manage to get over 13,000 feet which was our personal best. Good job we packed the coats as it was really brisk up there.

On the way down we stopped for our lunch and a nice rest at Ice Lake. It was pretty with lots of wildflowers about. A bit different from the last time we were there.

Ice Lake was really icy in June.

I’m always thrilled to snag a butterfly closeup. Thank you iPhone camera and selfie stick.

We stayed in Lake City, Colorado for week. At over 8,700 feet it was nice and cool. Surrounding the town are several mountains. Time to snag a fourteener.

We had been informed that it was fairly easy to get to the top of Handies Peak. That’s me on the way up looking pretty cheerful. That mountain doesn’t look very intimidating.

The top is getting a bit closer and the trail is smashing with lots of grass and great views.

Oh crapola. This part was terrifying. I had a bit of a panic attack three quarters of the way up this top section. I had a death grip on some rocks and was asking Dean if we could possibly get a helicopter rescue. I was too terrified to move up or down.

Funnily enough I am usually not scared of heights and will go to the edge of a cliff and look over but Dean hates heights and will stand way back. Now he was the MAAANNN!! He got me settled on a rock keeping me calm with a nice soothing voice. I had a drink of water and finally decided to go for it but kept my eyes only on the rocks just in front of my eyes. Definitely no looking up or down or to the sides. Dean stayed just in front giving me a verbal boost the whole time. Thank you dear husband.

Yippeee!!!!! We made it to 14,053 feet. It felt like the top of the world.

The 360 views were awesome.

All my scaredy cat feelings disappeared and we had a nice little hike along the ridge top.

It sure was a long way down but not nearly as terrifying as going up. What’s that all about? We passed a young guy going up and he asked how technical it was. Of course I had to put my Rose spin on how hard the latter part was. I got put in my place quick smart when he said he had just done 2 fourteeners that day and was trying for triple. I felt like a right wanker until I decided that I had at least 40 plus years on the kid.

After we got down to the lower flowery section it was time for a nice 30 minute lie down. In all it was a fabulous day. It was a ten miler with almost 3500 foot elevation gain. We had to open a second bottle of wine that night to celebrate.

After a couple of days our legs were rested enough to tackle a nice 10 mile stroll on a stretch of the Continental Divide which runs from Canada to Mexico. This part of the trail latches up with a section of the 500 mile Colorado trail. Once we had gained 1700 feet the trail leveled out and we had a great level hike for several miles on the top of a mesa.

We did see a bear running like crazy across the tundra but too far away for a pic. However this cute Pika posed for us.

Flowers were blooming in every rock crevice.

Columbines have such a pretty shape.

Our campground is fully booked so we are moving a few miles down the road. We thought getting campgrounds would not be a problem out here in the back of beyond but it seems every man their uncle is out camping. Every other vehicle we see is from Texas. I guess we all want the same thing. Fresh air and cooler temperatures. Keeping our fingers crossed we get a site.

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A bit of Colorado and Wyoming

Saturday 25th July 2020

We spent several days hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Due to the pandemic the park has started a timed entrance system. I had to go online and book a 2 hour window to enter the park. Only so many vehicles allowed in per day. I had to book each day separately and pay a $2 fee. I managed to snag several days worth at varying times of the day.

The scenery was a bit of a let down with all the dead pine trees due to beetle attack.

We did spot quite a few moose.

At over 12,000 feet Alpine flowers are very tiny. These Forget-me-nots and Sulphur flowers were only a couple of inches high.

A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly kept nice and still while having a sip of nectar from a Manzanita flower.

Many of the trails were closed as well as campgrounds which made the open trails fairly crowded. All the people we saw were extremely polite and considerate giving plenty of space to pass on the trails. There were only a few trails in the open so we saw just a few wildflowers here and there. We have now explored all the National Parks in the lower 48. For us it’s a slam dunk. Our favorites are on the west coast. Washington, Oregon, California, Wyoming, Utah and Montana have the best of the best. Sorry rest of the country.

We moved up to Wyoming for a few weeks to a campground with pickle ball courts. Dean had been suffering from pickle withdrawal. This park in the middle of nowhere had some very nice courts.

I left Dean playing pickle ball one day and went on a hike. I was enjoying a nice quiet stroll in the woods and then I heard a whole lot of baaaaing. There must have been a couple of hundred sheep milling about. I politely asked these woolies to shift off the trail. A couple tried to stare me down but they all finally made way for me to pass.

I snagged this pic but can’t identify the butterfly. Mandy I bet you would have the answer.

It took quite a while to make our way through this cattle drive.

We managed a 14 miler one day. The yellow Mules Ears were very pretty.

We seriously needed a sit down when we reached the top. A burned tree carcass made a comfy back rest.

It sure is nice to be hiking on trails that are less frequented. It helps being out in the boondocks.

There were several hundred sheep to make our way through on this hike. Dean took point and cleared the trail for me.

I love the Yellow Salsify that is all over the hills in the area.

It is as pretty when it goes to seed.

We are heading back down to Colorado for August but hopefully not in any crowded areas. Gotta get some more flower hikes in.

We are managing to stay pretty healthy. There have been several cases of Covid in the park but we have luckily avoided the ghastly bug so far. I sure hope you are all keeping well.

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Colorado Mountains

Thursday 18th June 2020

We stayed a few days in Ouray, a small town tucked in between tall mountains. We drove the car up a very narrow, windy gravel road to a reach a trailhead.

There were many streams to cross. Some kind person had made a nice bridge over this one.

After a couple of miles we moved out of the tree zone.

I got a little squirrelly crossing some of these snow packs. Rose! do NOT look down the mountain. It’s a long roll down.

Yippee! Made it to safer ground.

A huge gust of wind whipped off Deans hat and blew it into the only lake in the area, aptly named Ice Lake.

Thank goodness the hat dropped and picked up some snow which weighted it down enough to land at the edge of the lake. This enabled hat rescue mode to be deployed.

Life and limb risked and some very chilly feet but the $15 hat from Costco was retrieved and Deans noggin saved from sunburn.

It was a lovely hiking in the high country.

We were pretty thrilled to make it up to 12,440 feet.

Our next stop was Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We hiked along the rim and could see the Gunnison river down below still carving into the canyon.

The canyon ranges from 1700 to 2700 feet in depth.

We were able to drive to an area where we could hike along the river and admire the steep granite walls towering above.

I am even happy in a bed of Dandelions. The purple Larkspur added a nice contrast.

Columbines are starting to bloom. These are the Colorado State flower.

This group of Western Tent Caterpillars had almost wriggled out of their tent.

Leadville claims to be the highest town in the USA. The air was certainly pretty fresh up this high.

This hike near Leadville was mostly uphill and yet again lots of water crossings.

Also lots of snowpack to cross over.

This beautiful lake was our destination. The whole area was covered in Marsh Marigold.

Since sourdough is a popular thing these days I thought I would add my two cents worth. Jay has been making some professional looking, and tasting sourdough bread for a while.

He gave me a portion of the “Mother” and I have been having fun using the bubbly sour stuff. I have made lots of bread but I just sling it in loaf pans. It tastes good but just not as pretty as Jays bread.

Savory sourdough crackers are delicious.

Sourdough waffles are pretty great too.

We are moving slowly up the middle of Colorado. Never sure of where we will be next.

Posted in Food and Beverages, Travel | 28 Comments

Cortez, Colorado

Friday 29th May 2020

We have had a great month here in Cortez which is in southwest Colorado. Our elevation is 6200 ft and it has been generally in the 70’s during the day and and comfy sleeping night temps of the 40’s.

We have been hiking a lot and our new sticks are working overtime. I bet you know which one is mine.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument covers 176,000 acres so we had plenty of room for social distancing. We spent several lovely hiking days out here.

We felt pretty ancient after a 12 mile trek.

There are many cool looking ruins to admire.

Dean looks pretty happy standing on the mushroom rock. Notice the smaller mushroom in the left of the pic.

That was my happy place.

This huge overhang covers several buildings.

A collared lizard posed very nicely for a picture.

Dean was caught between a rock and a hard place.

It looked like this ruin was under a giant chimney.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Dean found some soft grass for nap which made a nice change from the rocky ground we’ve been hiking on lately.

We managed a quick pic of a brown fox. He was too skittish for a close up.

This tumbleweed escaped from the tumbleweed patch. I “politely” yelled at Dean to chase it down.

Yeah! He scored a tumbling tumbleweed.

Hovenweep National Monument opened up their trails so we spent a splendid day hiking the great ruins.

I especially love this building. Can you imagine walking around the area and thinking “Oh yes, this giant boulder would make a great foundation to build a house on”.

Dean! Mind the gap.

I love crack.

We saw many Cliffsrose shrubs which have a nice scent. The mature seed has a cute long fuzzy hair that acts as a parachute to help disperse the seeds in the wind.

Bees and bugs were giving this thistle a going over.

Mesa Verde National Park has partially opened up. We were able to get a couple of nice hikes in. It is always a thrill to see the ancient ruins. This was a pretty large community back in the day.

Such a lot of work went into creating this trail. There were many stone staircases like this set.

Dean is a pretty good sport when I ask him to stick his head in holes that I think look interesting.

It has started to warm up in Cortez even at this altitude. This last week we have been hiking at higher elevations. The spring flowers are starting to pop up at 9000 feet. Nothing beats resting in a bed of buttercups.

Our last big hike in the area was a 10 miler with 2000 feet elevation gain. Thank good ness it was a graduated climb. Lots of Marsh Marigolds were blooming.

We had several streams to cross and quite a few snow drifts.

11,000 feet and the end of the trail finally. We had a spectacular view while we ate our lunch and congratulated ourselves on not keeling over. Not bad for a couple of old codgers.

We are moving north a little bit. Still waiting for stuff to open. Some towns have a lockdown still in place and only locals are allowed. We are loading up with food and planning on staying in the back country.

Stay healthy and safe my lovely family and friends.

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Social Distancing in Indio

Monday 27th April 2020

We are still at the campground in Indio California. There are only a few people left so it’s pretty quiet. I have been enjoying all the well maintained flower beds on our daily walk around the park.

I have also had fun with my 6 flower baskets over the last 5 months. I almost feel like I have a real garden with all the watering and trimming.

The desert is starting to bloom.

It always amazes me how all these colorful flowers can thrive in such an arid climate.

I matched this flowery Ocotillo perfectly.

A decent sized Rattlesnake lay across our path. I think he was having a nap as he looked a bit chunky around the middle and might have been digesting his last meal.

As we got a bit closer he gave us the classic warning to give him some room. A little tail shake and we got the message to move on.

It started getting pretty warm so we took to the higher hills for a nice hike on a bit of the PCT. This trail is 2653 miles long. It starts at a the border of Mexico and ends at the border of Canada. The lowest part of the trail is 140 ft in Oregon and the highest tops out at 13,153 ft in California. Over the years we have hiked many miles on stretches of the PCT in Oregon, Washington and California.

Manzanita shrubs were busting out.

It would be a bit gnarly if one of these pine cones landed on your noggin.

This rock was a Lichen magnet.

A great hike on a cool sunny day.

We were thrilled to have Jay come down for a couple of days. Southern California is still masking up. Kinda hard to drink your wine but where there’s a will there’s a way.

Since we hardly see anyone in the desert it was a good “Social Distancing” place to take Jay and Maya. We took them on our secret slot canyon hike.

I think Jay got a real workout.

Maya was a champ getting lugged up the ladders.

One last pull out of the slot.

We found some comfy rocks for our snack. There was even a view of the Salton Sea.

We all needed a shower after the dusty hike.

The next day we were back in the same area doing a ladder hike. Jay! Only 13 more ladders to go.

The rock formations are so varied.

Maya might have been wishing her legs were a bit longer.

Finally coming out of the canyon.

Thanks for a great couple of hiking days Jay. I think he was surprised at the agility of his old codger parents.

We have made friends with another couple stranded at our campground. It’s good to latch up with people that like to hike and explore. Leslie and Stuart wanted to check out our slot canyon.

They had never seen a rattle snake so one showed up and nicely rattled for them.

The heat has got pretty bad now in Indio. Over 103 degrees every day. It was time for a higher elevation hike. This rock kinda looked like a toadstool.

We even found a patch or two of snow. Ahhh sweet relief for my sweaty body.

We had another lovely day with our new hiking buddies. We hope to meet up back at the same park this winter. Leslie and Stuart we are up for more great hiking.

We hope you are all staying safe and healthy. “Keep Calm and Carry On” is our mantra. The shops now have an abundance of toilet paper but can I buy a bag of flour to make some bread? Flour and yeast it seems are the latest items on the “all sold out” shelves

I guess people finally started figuring out that you could have toilet paper and paper towels up the kazoo but it might be more sensible to start prioritizing and buy actual food to eat instead of paper products.

It’s time to leave for higher ground. Our 2 rooftop air conditioners are working non stop to keep the camper somewhat comfortable in this triple digit temperature. All the blinds are down, doors are closed and I feel like I am in a cave. Not good for Rose. Dean take me to the light, or at least drive me to a more comfortable elevation.

We are packing up today and heading toward northern Arizona tomorrow. Some campgrounds are now starting to open although all the facilities are closed. Since we are fully self contained we can still keep our social distancing. We just want the hookups. Higher elevations and lower temps here we come.

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Indio, California

Thursday 26th March 2020

This golf course was getting extra detailing done as some professional golfers were stopping by. The greens take some serious watering to keep the desert at bay.

We love hiking in the slot canyons especially when we find new ones to explore.

It sure is fun hiking the curvy…..

and jaggedy canyons!

Finally climbing out of the canyon.

I think I scrunched up rather well in the hole.

Jay came down for a quick visit and of course he and Maya look a lot better in the same hole.

Maya is a real trooper on these canyon hikes. She doesn’t mind being hoisted up or down.

It’s always great hiking with family.

Hiking with friends is pretty awesome too.

Key Ranch is in Joshua Tree National Park and is a ranger guided tour. It used to be owned by a local rancher back in the early 1900’s. He must have had a thing for ovens back in the day.

Al fresco bathroom facilities.

These vehicles just need a bit of tender loving care.

The springs have sprung.

On a more serious note. We hope all our family and friends are keeping well during this difficult time. We were due to leave our RV Resort next week and start heading toward Colorado for the summer but with all the shut downs we plan on staying here for a little while longer. Our park looks like a ghost town. All the Canadians have left and most snowbirds from the northern states. The pools, gym, pickle ball ,tennis and golf facilities have closed down as we have at least one confirmed case of Coronavirus in the park.

We are still able to shop for groceries and the local stores seem to have plenty of fresh produce although they are always out of toilet paper and paper towels. Never any queues at the local liquor stores of course.

Our plan is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, drink a good amount of red wine and hike alone in the desert until it is safe to move on.

Love and good health wishes to you all dear family and friends.

Posted in Travel | 29 Comments

2019 Summary

Sunday 29th December, 2019

First of all Dean and I wish you a very Merry Holiday Season. May 2020 bring you happiness and the joy of good health.

We travelled quite a few miles this year. We drove the Beast over 10,600 miles from Mexico to Alaska with Canada and America in between. Beauty got driven another 11,500 miles after the 10,600 being towed. After 73 campground stops we have finally settled into a park in Indio California. We will be here until the end of March. I am sure we will be ready to pull in the slide outs and start some new explorations by then.

Beauty and the Beast.

A Few Highlights from 2019

Whale petting on the Baja coast of Mexico was definitely exciting.

These gentle mammals were so friendly.

Southern California had a beautiful spring flower display.

A layover in Zion National Park with our lads was definitely a major highlight.

They had a busy time paddle boarding, canyoneering…

rock climbing and bike riding.

We are still a Honda Element family.

Glacier National Park was a great stopover. There was plenty of snow to hike over…

and lots of gushing waterfalls.

Our drive through lovely Canada was a wildlife delight.

Even though the roadworks were plentiful in Alaska the scenery was spectacular.

I got to snack on icebergs.

And watched sea otters snack on salmon.

Valdez was so picturesque.

It was all going well until the wildfires started. The rest of our trip was a lot of this. Smoky skies blocking all the wonderful views. Breathing in the smoke was not good either.

We made a fast track back to Washington State which was free of summer wildfires.

We had some fabulous hiking in North Cascades National Park.

The mountains were gobstopping.

Goat rocks Wilderness area was covered in wildflowers. The Lupines had a lovely fragrance.

We love alpine hiking.

We had a leisurely trip down the California coastline. Monterey is very popular with budding artists.

It also has very nice benches.

We moved down to San Diego For Christmas expecting some lovely warm sunny weather. It was great for a quick second.

As soon as we had arranged for Dax to fly in and Jay drive down the weather went belly up. It was rain jackets and all the wintery clothing we could scrape up.

The lads were good sports. We spent most of the week in the camper. Monopoly and some good movies helped.

We had one sunny day and it seemed like a good idea to give surfing a go.

Jay’s dog Maya was all for it. However it was too cold and the waves too big for much enjoyment.

Thanks lads for hanging with Mom and Dad.

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Mount Rainier and Goat Rocks

Wednesday 4th September 2019

We managed to get a bit of good hiking on the back side of Mount Rainier National Park and were happy it was not crowded. A prior day trip to the main flower area on the other side of the park had been a dead loss. The flowers were mostly done and the trail was packed.

Mount Rainier still had quite a bit of snow.

Ahh! back to flowery goodness.

That’s more like it. The lupines were covering the hillsides and had such a delicate scent.

Another day we hiked in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. We never saw any goats but the flowers were prolific. That’s Mount Adams in the background.

As usual Dean found a comfy spot for his nap after the huge hike up the mountainside.

I love the Pasqueflower when it’s gone to seed.

We had just passed a fairly green area and thought the flowers were done but this lovely display was on the other side of the mountain.

The water was so pretty in this caldera.

My last view of the flower hillside. Such a great day.

Our campground had an abundance of blackberry bushes. They were delicious on our cereal and…

a few pounds made it into my jam jars.

Mount St. Helens is always a fun place to hike. Many parts are finally greening up after the massive volcano erupted and flattened the whole area in 1980.

The area around Spirit Lake still looks barren.

There was plenty of water flowing down the mountain from melting glaciers but the high pumice and ash content of the soil made it hard for any vegetation to get a foothold in this area.

Thank you Washington. We had a great time hiking in your lovely mountains. On to Oregon.

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