On the way from Sedona to Taos, New Mexico

It was a really long driving day today and not the most comfortable overnight accommodations…….but thank you Cracker Barrel for opening your doors to us!

We left this morning at 0730 and arrived in Albuquerque, NM around 5 pm. That’s 9 1/2 hours on the road – we were all pretty worn out by the time we got here. Howie and I ran to Walmart for a few supplies, then we grabbed a quick dinner inside the Cracker Barrel.

Along the way, we went through the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. I thought I’d share a few pictures. Very interesting, but once again, a very stark landscape. I remember being at the Petrified Forest as a kid….my dad bought a HUGE piece of petrified wood (about the size of a bowling ball) from one of the stores and now I’m lucky enough to have it in my home.

Interstate 40 runs alongside the historic Route 66 – kind of sad that such an important road running from Chicago to Los Angeles exists about 85% only in interrupted sections now.

We hope to be on the road again around 0900 in the morning for the 2 1/2 hours to Taos where we will stay for three days. See you all there – happy trails!!

Sedona…..home of the red rocks.

Yes, we are heading south and are now in Sedona, Arizona. From here, we’ll be heading east and hope to be back home in Naples around October 22. We can’t believe the wonderful weather we’ve been blessed with since leaving on this adventure the first of July. We have experienced only a few hours of rain, one night of extreme wind and even a little snow, but overall the weather has been “made to order”.

Again, our weather while in Sedona has been wonderful – and we have once again experienced some remarkable scenery. Today Marj and I again did a little shopping, this time at a couple of antique stores, looking for treasures as Sedona souvenirs….we met the nicest people again.

Howie even did a little shopping with us this morning…..his interests were a bit different than ours, however!

This is Chapel of the Holy Cross, built right into the rocks in 1957 by native architect, Marguerite Brunswig Staude. Amazing!

Sedona is an artsy town built in the midst of the red rocks of the area. It is filled with trendy restaurants and store after store of pottery, paintings and souvenirs. It’s actually a bit overwhelming – even for hard core shoppers like us!

We had to get home from shopping to drive to Sedona during the setting of the sun as the rays really light up the red of the mountains. Absolutely beautiful!

This is a favorite photo of mine from today as the mountain illuminated behind the one in the foreground, looks like a harvest moon! (You might need to use a big imagination.)

Tomorrow we leave around 0730 for Albuquerque, New Mexico – it’s about a 6 hour drive from where we are. Then we’ll spend about 3 days in Taos followed by a full week in Santa Fe. We were scheduled to be at the annual (hot air) Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque but once again, Covid preceded us! We were so disappointed to hear it was cancelled. Maybe another year.

The GRAND is absolutely GRAND!

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, ranges from 4,000 to 6,000 feet deep and is 18 miles across at the widest point. Congress passed an act naming the canyon as a national park in Arizona on February 26, 1919. Teddy Roosevelt once said that every American must see the Grand Canyon…..I would definitely agree with him. The enormity of it is something you can not quite imagine – you have to see it to even begin to understand. That said, I have to admit that I prefer Bryce Canyon for the sake of beauty, but the Grand carries a beauty all it’s own!!!

Well, after chasing through Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Cody and Jackson Hole in the pursuit of wildlife, we pulled into our campsite at Trailer Village, Grand Canyon to this….what a welcoming committee!

Note the rainbow in the background.

If that wasn’t enough, it wasn’t long before this big guy entered the scene….and he put on quite a show for us!

I have a LOT more video of this big boy, but let’s move on to the Grand Canyon. Oh – but before we do, there was one more animal, I wanted to share with you!

And one more animal (of sorts!) It totally reminded me of Bullwinkle the Moose! Do you see it?? Amazing what burls do to a tree.

Now…..on to the canyon.

The canyon at sunrise!

Well, the next day, we decided to see the Canyon at sunset. We had rain off and on that day, but we had hope that it would clear to a beautiful sunset. But not this time……instead, we were blessed by a dramatic sky and a RAINBOW! How many people can say they saw a rainbow over the Grand Canyon?? We were told that was the first rain all summer…and we were there! Behind every cloud is a silver lining……or a rainbow! The rainbow is in many of the pictures – you just have to look for it!

The last few places we’ve been too have not had good WIFI….sorry for the gap in my posts but it was not to be helped. I think we’re pretty much caught up now except for my postings under “campgrounds” – I’m way behind, but I’ll try to work on it over the next few days as some of you are asking. Tomorrow, we leave for Sedona, Arizona……I’m looking forward to that as I’ve never been in the Southwest. Think I’ll see a cactus or two?? HAPPY TRAILS!!!!!!!

I feel I have to post this……but it is NOT a pretty picture!

I have heard in church, statistics that I found hard to believe. This is not an accurate quote as I’m sure my numbers are incorrect. But it’s something like this….”If your household earns $50,000/year, you are in the top 7% of the wealthiest in the USA. Seems hard to believe, doesn’t it?? If you are reading this blog, chances are you are in the top 7%!

This journey has opened our eyes to so much beauty in our nation, but it has also brought a renewed awareness of how much poverty there is as well. We saw MANY areas with homes as you see below and you have to wonder, how can this be??

But when you see the “ugly” of the barren landscape around these areas, you might be able to understand a bit better. How do you eek out a prosperous living with this all around you?

Growing up in central Illinois where the black soil is fertile and rich with nutrients, we always had more than enough. Others weren’t so fortunate. I am so thankful for the life, family and friends that God as bless me with – take a moment to reflect on YOUR blessings!

Happy Trails!

It’s nice in Bryce!!

Bryce National Park was not on our original itinerary. I’m not sure why it wasn’t since we all wanted to go there. A few weeks ago, we realized that we would be somewhat close, so a few little changes later…..presto, here we are! And boy, we’re glad we made the change! What a stunning, glorious place!

Our first day there, we stopped first at Sunrise Point and hiked as little way to the lookout point – it took our breath away and it was just the beginning! From there, Howie hiked another 1/2 mile to Sunset Point while I chose to hike the trail down into the canyon. I think I was able to get the better shots, but I have to tell you, going down was hard but coming up again nearly killed me! It didn’t help that I was wearing sandals and didn’t have any water with me, not to mention that I’m not really in shape! But…..it was worth it!

This is the path I took into the canyon – please note the absence of guardrails! But I couldn’t help continuing as there were amazing sights around every bend – I kept thinking, what goes down, must go up but it was just so beautiful!!

This is where I stopped my descent into the canyon….the picture shows the steep switchbacks and I was already about 1/2 mile down. I knew I needed to turn around if I was going to make it back up to the top!

The next day we drove to a few other lookout points, including Inspiration Point, the Natural Bridge, elevation 8627, and Rainbow Point, named for all the color.

That night Howie and I went back into the park after dark to do some star gazing. It was a bit creepy at Bryce Point where the stars shine the brightest due to the complete darkness but we did see a breathtaking sight….we were easily able to find the few constellations we were familiar with including the Milky Way!

Our recommendation?? If you ever have the opportunity, take your Happy Trail directly to Bryce Canyon!!!

Today was my birthday!

Thank you to all who sent birthday wishes today! It was such a great surprise to hear from so many of you. I got face timed from Casey, Natalie, Amanda, Kailey and Garrett. Amanda sent multiple videos throughout the day of her different classes all wishing me a Happy Birthday. The last video was of her and my grandkids….a grand finale!

First of all, it was moving day. It was time to leave Bryce Canyon and move south about 3 hours to Page, Arizona. But first Howie and I started the day by going out for breakfast.

We reached Page about 11:00 am. Our initial intent, was to go to Antelope Canyon, a beautiful canyon full of color. But Covid preceded us and the Canyon was closed – the only way to see it was via tours and that of course would cause people to be clustered together, so they are closed.

Instead, we went to Horseshoe Bend – it was a hike of 3/4 mile in the desert (and back again!) with the temp around 90+ degrees. But once there, it was beautiful and quite awe inspiring.

ANOTHER BIRTHDAY SURPRISE ON THE WAY BACK TO THE CAR – IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THIS!!!!

Thankfully, our campground had a swimming pool, so when we got back, Howie and I went for a dip to cool off. It was indoors and we had the whole pool to ourselves.

This picture cracks me up – it must be the angle but I look like a miniature toy in the pool!

The group let me pick the restaurant to go to dinner, so I choose a BBQ place. The food was great – we sat outdoors and there was live music (they sang happy birthday to me!!)

After dinner, we went to Marj and Larry’s where we celebrated with a monster chocolate pie! I wish the picture actually showed how big this pie was – AND it was delicious!

I had a perfect birthday! Thank you ALL! Happy Trails!!

Cortez, CO…….Mesa Verde

The drive to Cortez Co from Ouray was STUNNING. So much beauty around every bend. I was snapping pictures continuously! We avoided route 550 because it’s so treaturous, and opted to go 62 to 145. This route also had plenty of scary moments!

We’ve run into a few disappointments here in Cortez. First, we found out that “Four Corners” (where Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico meet) is closed – thank you Covid. Then today, I found out that the cliff dweller tours at Mesa Verde are also closed. This was a big pick for both Howie and me but we’re going to drive into the park and hopefully see the dwellings from scenic overlooks.

I’m picking up where I left writing last night and I am SO HAPPY to tell you that we were definitely able to see the cliff dwellings today. We had wonderful sunny weather and we actually saw a fox, deer, coyote and I am definitely certain that I saw a moose on the way back into Cortez. It was in the brush about halfway up a slight mountain side but when we turned around to see it again, it was gone! But the big prize for the day was seeing some wild horses – so beautiful! Sadly, the only picture I was able to capture of the wildlife was the coyote…..here he is!

Our first stop was at the visitor center where I got my passport book stamped. I also picked up two kits; one for making a basket and one for making a clay pot. Both replicate what the Pueblo people may have made. (I’ll be sure to share these once I get them finished.) There was a bronze statue out front of an “ancient person”. They are now called Ancestral Pueblo people and were quite the climbers which is what the statue depicts.

Even more stunning scenery as we drove about 23 miles from the park entrance to the cliff dwellings.

It’s really difficult to imagine living the lifestyle of a cliff dweller – it couldn’t have been easy. But our understanding is that they were a civilization of community and cheerfulness. Their primary food source was corn, beans and squash supplemented by deer, rabbit and squirrels. They were great planners and would store and stockpile a 3-5 years supply of dried corn. Autumn was a time of harvest and men would be gathering crops or spreading them on rooftops to dry. Women would be grinding corn or making pottery while the kids played and old men would be telling stories.

AMAZING!!

Everyone has probably heard of the famous cliff dwellers, but what might not be as widely known is their ancestors lived in pit houses. The pit house were dug into the ground, had four corner posts that supported a roof. These ancient people would build city on top of city before moving to the cliffs. They dwelled in the cliffs from about 1200 AD – 1300 AD, then over 1 or 2 generations, they just left. It’s not really known why, but theories include they had exhausted the land of it’s nutrients and game, there was a mighty drought, or there were political differences.

The pit houses had a vented fireplace to help circulate air and there were anti-chambers used for storage. A small hole in the floor may have had important symbolic meaning.

This is a very interesting historical area and we recommend a visit if you should ever decide to hit the HAPPY TRAILS!

Photo Contest – Phase 3

I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF YOU WHO TAKE A MOMENT TO PLACE YOUR VOTES! THANK YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH!

Maybe, I should have named this category “the mountain” category as they all seem to be of the mountains. I just can’t help it though as the mountains are so majestic and beautiful. Please believe me when I say I had a really hard time paring down the entries to just a few.

REMEMBER – Again, two categories, one vote for each. The first category (A) is for beauty and the second (B) is for cute/fun. The first picture under each category is #1, the second, #2, and so on. So if you want to vote for the 4th picture under “A”, submit A4 and do the same for category “B”. Please take a moment and voteā€¦.your vote does matter!

Category A – BEAUTIFUL

Category B – FUN/CUTE

Hooray for Ouray!

Ouray (pronounced You-ray) is a small historic mining town, nestled in a wooded valley surrounded by mountains. This little town, also known as the Switzerland of America, is one of the most scenic spots in the country. Getting there can be a bit of a challenge as one of the routes is the infamous 550. This route is full of steep grades, high elevations, and switchbacks, many without guardrails!! (What are they thinking!) Ouray is a desired vacation spot, especially for people in RV’s and motorhomes, so it gets a bit “hairy” when meeting another big rig going the other direction. So, we opted, especially because of a winter storm, to come via Utah 64 as far as Rifle, CO, then I-70 to Grand Junction, and finally Colorado 50 to Ouray. This route was a bit longer, with elevations and curves all it’s own. But here we are, safe and sound and very grateful!

A unique attraction here is the hot springs. Howie, Larry, and I opted to take advantage and soak in this super warm water for several hours. The sun was out so the air wasn’t too cold that day but even so, it was a bit nippy went we got out of the pools.

Those two good looking guys in the second pic are actually Howie and Larry! It’s a beautiful setting to soak and relax!

If you want to take a day trip to Silverton or Durango, you have no option other than to take the 550 – of course, it’s not QUITE as frightening when your not in a motorhome or pulling a 35′ 5th wheel. Even so, we had a lot of talking to do to get Marj to consent as she really does NOT like heights. She did great though as the stunning scenery served as a natural distraction!

I know that was a lot of pictures but as I said, there is beauty all around and it’s just so hard to capture it all…..you really must go to understand fully what I mean.

We also found a small little road that at the top, gave a birdseye view of Ouray. There was a sweet little bench where you could sit and relax to take in the town.

This is downtown Ouray. The buildings were all very old and you could easily imagine it as a mining town in the 1880’s.

One day, we drove the 550 to Silverton, another mining town and popular tourist town as well. We did a little shopping while the guys sat and sipped their coffee. Here are some pictures of buildings and the town.

And here’s a picture of our favorite house in Ouray. Note the 3 mining cars used as planters in the landscaping, an ode to the town’s mining history…..clever!

Beside just being a town in a beautiful setting, it’s a great place to visit because of it’s location to so many other tourist towns and attractions. Other than Silverton and Durango, it’s just an hours drive to Telluride, a famous ski area. Here are a few more pictures from our stay in Ouray.

HAPPY TRAILS!!!

Yabba Dabba Doo…….!

Before we left on the 4 month adventure, we all had opportunity to say what places we really wanted to see. Well, this was Howies……Dinosaur Land!

To get here from Jackson Hole, we passed through some interesting country – some of which had steep and curvy roads!

We actually followed right along the Oregon Trail for miles and miles.

We made it to Vernal, Utah where the Dinosaur National Monument is located. This town is small but it definitely wins for most beautiful flowers! The streets are lined with full beautiful hanging baskets and planters.

One day, Howie and Larry went to the Utah Natural History State Park museum while Marj and I did a little shopping. That night we had a huge wind storm that howled through the night – a very frightening thing when you’re in an oversized canned ham tin! We had planned to go to the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry Exhibit Hall that morning, then leave for Ouray, Colorado. We received word that Ouray was getting 8-12 inches of snow that day, so we went to the Quarry, planning to stay another night in Vernal.

The Exhibit Hall was built right into the quarry wall where excavation was done. This gives the viewers a complete idea of what it was like to find and remove the bone fossils.

Inside the two stories revealed the entire quarry wall. It was very well done.

SO windy!

When we went to leave the quarry, the wind had picked up even more and snow was predicted to hit Vernal later that day. We did not want to be stuck in Vernal for an indefinite amount of time so we decided to head for Grand Junction, half way to Ouray. Going was slow as we found ourselves in the mountains, in the middle of a snow storm. The guys did great driving and when we got to Grand Junction, the weather had improved so we continued on to Ouray. We arrived safely, thankful that we had made the right choices and settled in for the night. You can see how the weather progressively worsened.

It was SO good to get to Ouray. We snuggled in as we were all pretty exhausted.

Remember….not all trails are always HAPPY TRAILS! Sometimes, they’re a bit scary.