Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Goosenecks State Park, Utah

3G signal goes in and out, so no pics until tomorrow.  Made it to Goosenecks State Park near Mexican Hat Utah.  $10 for a view, picnic table, fire ring and dirt...but well worth it for the view.

Tire problem gone for now...for good we hope.  Won't talk about the hole in our muffler again (HHR), nor the gash in my leg after I shut the car door on my leg (frustrated about the rock I hit hurting the muffler), nor how I pulled the antenna hookup out of the Verizon Jetpack, and thankfully tape is holding it in place (that is just bad, or should I say cheap, manufacturing)...


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Someone Take This Tire Bug From Us!

While at Desert View Campground I came to believe that the tire extender had a leak on passenger's front tire.  So I removed it when we were idle, put back on while we traveled. Monday, I decided it was best to drive back to Mather Campground and empty tanks and take on fresh water.  Got back and took off the extender, which has the tire pressure monitor attached to it.  Reattached to leave this morning, and that tire had dropped 10 psi over night.  Thank goodness the gas station, which has an attendant from 9-5, is actually open all night, and has free tire filler going 24 hours a day.  So we went in, filled tire to 70 psi and drove on to the east before turning south...headed for Discount Tire in Flagstaff.

At Cameron Arizona we turn to the south on 89.  About 10 miles south our sensor goes off just after hitting a patch of rough Arizona roadway...we are down to 60 psi again.  We drive on, hoping we can get to Flagstaff, but at the 20 miles away mark, we are down to 52...time to find a turnout and call roadside assistance.  That take 2 hours, and the guy cranks us up to 80 from 20 which it slowly dropped to.  It only reads 78 on our monitor, and he follows us into Flagstaff, thank you for that.  Discount Tires takes another 2 is the tire stem.  This is the same tire which was dropped in Little Rock while brakes were being fixed, which broke the good extender that we had...well, it also did damage to this tire stem, which broke apart as I watched the guy remove the tire.  Thank goodness I keep a supply of these tire stems for the chrome wheels, which are different than the ones for the inner dual tires, because that saves lots of time.

After, I went to a Napa Auto Store and got a new extension too, so we should be fine.  I knew Flagstaff had a Cracker Barrel...and that is were we ate, where we will stay the night, and in the morning we are headed back to Discount Tire and have them check and fill all tires while we are cold (it is 3 miles away, and it will be 42 tonight), and then off we will go.  Ok, so it delays us a day...we have no real time schedule right now anyway.

(Posted using my handheld device...I think everything is typed right...sorry if it is not)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Hopi Mythology of Grand Canyon by Marvin, a Hopi Park Ranger

Story Ranger Marvin of Hopi Descent told, Desert View, Grand Canyon

Park Ranger Marvin presents the Hopi beliefs as it pertains to the Grand Canyon, where his ancestry has lived for over a thousand years.  Marvin has worked for the Park Service for five weeks now, a man in his late 50’s to early 60’s.  He had a career in law enforcement, which I assume was on the Hopi Reservation, which is surrounded by the Navajo Reservation to the east of the canyon…we will be driving along a small portion of the Hopi Reservation tomorrow.

Story Ranger Marvin of Hopi Descent told, Desert View, Grand CanyonOn the second floor of the watchtower, one can see this Hopi Story on the wall.  I have a picture of it in my previous blog post.  Marvin told the interpretation of this story last night.  It tells how a Hopi (Puebloan) young man named Tiyo, who was fascinated with where all the water flowing through the canyon went, was asked by his dad (upper left quarter of frame in picture to the left) to float down the river and discover the secret of the water, because they were in a terrible drought and they needed the water.  The next frame (upper right quarter) is him floating down, then ends up in the ocean, then ends up in Peru (Incas).  The next frame (bottom right quarter) is him meeting his future wife, and how these people knew the secrets of the snakes (there are snakes along the top, bottom and sides of that frame) and the secrets of the water.  The last frame is the two of them returning to the Grand Canyon area, her with the power to make rain, and you can see the many rain clouds above them. 

Ranger Marvin of Hopi Descent, Desert View, Grand CanyonTo the right Marvin is holding up a picture of a young Hopi woman, with her hair up, much like Princes Leia (Carrie Fisher) wore her hair in the Star Wars movie.  A Hopi woman who wears her hair like this has never been married.  In the third frame the woman has her hair up like this, but in the fourth frame it is down…so the two of them got married in Peru before they came back to the Canyon area.  

Sunset, Desert View, Grand Canyon     Sunset, Desert View, Grand Canyon

What a lovely backdrop for the presentation, with the Watchtower (which is full of Hopi culture) and the sun setting along the canyon.  Marvin and I talked for a good 20 minutes after the presentation, what a nice man, with such a love for his people and culture and for the creator of all.  I asked him during the Q&A about the Hopi thoughts about how the canyon was made…and he said it was a long story, but to keep it short, it was another quest but this time the father sent the fastest young man up river to a location where he planted feathers, said some special words, and then ran back as the canyon was split open behind him.  Later as we talked alone I asked if there was a story about a great flood as found in many other cultures, and he said yes…that was how they went from the third world to the fourth world (we currently live in the fourth world), because the third world had become so corrupt that it had to be destroyed.   I asked if there was a fifth world, and he said, “If the world becomes too corrupt, then yes, and I don’t want to be around when and if that happens.”  Marvin is a wonderful addition to the seasonal staff here at Canyon View…he will truly share his knowledge, love and respect for the Hopis with all those who take the time to talk to him, and to attend any of his presentations.

Sunset, Desert View, Grand Canyon    Sunset, Desert View, Grand Canyon
Sunset, Desert View, Grand Canyon

Afterwards, I hung around for another wonderful sunset…

Sunset, Desert View, Grand Canyon


Elk near Desert View Campground, Grand Canyon

Saw this little thing as I drove back to the campground…did not realize there were elk so close to our campgrounds.

Campground Poachers, Desert View Campground, Grand Canyon

Woke up this morning and found some creatures had invoked upon our camping grounds during the night.  This picture is from the window I sit at every day..this is where I take the dogs to do their morning business, and so we went there anyway.  I mentioned to the young man and woman that they were in my camping space, and that Ranger Bill would be coming by real soon and that it would be to their betterment to pack up and leave…and they did…

Ranger Bill, camp host, Desert View Campground, Grand Canyon

…and Ranger Bill did come by, and I told him about it.  He said told me that they were probably part of the group that he caught last night, but was able to move them into a spot that another camper decided to vacate yesterday evening.  My hat is off to both Ranger Bill (above) and Ranger William (his helper who fills in during his time off).  They are both seasonal work-campers, which means they camp out, and work about 40 hours per week, and are volunteers of the NPS but get free electricity, propane, water and sewer.  Bill is now on his fourth year, while William (who went by Bill until he arrived this year and found out there was already a “Bill” here) just started his first year.  These two guys are both wonderful, and they keep this campground in fine shape…make that great shape.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Desert View, Looking out over the Canyon

Watchtower View, Grand Canyon

One habit we seem to have is to wait and see the sights closest to us last.  Desert View is at the extreme eastern end of the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park.  At Desert view are bathrooms, a gift shop, a store/snack bar, the caretaker house, and, of course, the Desert View Watchtower.  Today Marcia was wanting to just take it easy around the motorhome.  After I cleaned the air vent fan in the main living area, and a few other chores, I decided to go over to see Desert View which is within walking distance…but a bit easier to drive.  After all, I intended to climb the four floors to the top of the tower because, after all, “it is there”.

Watchtower, Grand CanyonThe Watchtower area is a fairly popular place, but not as popular and busy as the Mather Point, Bright Angel Point and the area in between these two.  But many people take the 20 mile drive to the east to see Desert View…and the large parking lot gets full, but we did not see it fill all the way up.  Still, lots of people…the only down fall for the place.

Watchtower View, Grand Canyon

On the outside of the watchtower, you can walk around and get views of the canyon.  They also honor those lost in the worst aviation crash National Historic Landmark, Airplanes Crash, 1956of its day, back in 1956, when a United Airlines DC-7 collided with a TWA Super Constellation as they were both maneuvering around towering cumulus clouds at 21,000 feet.  All 128 passengers and crew perished.  The wrecks were located just in the upper left of my picture above, just on the other side of the river—the picture taken just to the northeast of the watchtower.  Due to this wreck, the FAA was born.  It is nice of them to remember this crash so many years later when just three years ago they unveiled this plaque designating the site as a historic landmark.  The initial picture of this posting was taken just to the east of the watchtower along this outer area, looking back to the main entrance of the Grand Canyon to the west.

Watchtower, first floor, Grand Canyon
The watchtower is four floors high, 70-feet, and a narrow stairway goes up the four floors.  There is this wooden ladder which goes up one floor, but is no longer in use.  Look at the wood in the ceiling.  (I took a panoramic shot of each floor, so this is a circular room, as are the others in the pictures below.)

Watchtower, second floor, Grand Canyon

This is the second floor.  Watchtower, Colter Sign,  Grand CanyonNote the sign leaning up against the circular center, which is the same sign to the right of this writing.  The sign was hand painted by Mary Jane Colter, who designed the Watchtower and about six other buildings in the Grand Canyon.  Back in 2008, two men decided that they did not like the grammar/punctuation on the sign and with whiteout and sharpie pens they changed a few things on the sign.  They got caught and were fined and ordered by the judge to not visit any National Park for a year.   That, of course, made national headlines, and the sign was restored.

Watchtower, third floor, Grand Canyon
Watchtower, looking up to fourth floor,  Grand Canyon     Watchtower, looking down to third floor,  Grand Canyon

Above is the third floor, with a view above to the fourth, and below to the second.  The stairway is to the right in the top picture, with the young man coming up from the second floor in the extreme right of the picture, and then the stairs go up right above that.

Watchtower, fourth floor, Grand Canyon
Watchtower, ceiling fourth floor,  Grand Canyon     Watchtower, looking down two floors,  Grand Canyon

And here is the fourth floor, with a look at the ceiling above, and down to the third and second floors below.  But if you look at the top picture of these three, you can see a stairway with people going up.  Now I showed the entry level, and the second, third and now fourth floors.  It is said to be “a four story tower”, yet I have to climb another set of stairs to get to the top “lookout” floor.  I think they just like to fool old men like me into thinking you are only going up four sets of stairs, which makes it a four story structure…when in reality it is five stories tall when you count the bottom story.  After all, who does not count the bottom floor???

Watchtower, top observation area floor, Grand Canyon

Of course, the top floor is where everyone was headed.  On each floor I stopped and sat and enjoyed the view (ok, so I was resting).  Most people went up, looked, went back down.  A few were in front of my as I headed up to the second floor, and by the time I got to the third floor, they were coming down!  (Ok, so I rested for a long time…)  But wait, what is this in the middle????  Are those more stairs????

Watchtower, stairs to roof, Grand Canyon

Yes, it must be the stairway to Heaven, because it is leading upward…but had I climbed it, I would have been cursing it as if it was the stairway to hell….  (Ok mom, I will wash my mouth out with soap, again…)  This stairway evidentially leads to the roof of the tower….I agree that the roof is not another floor.  I am just thankful I did not need to climb those wooden stairs too.  

Watchtower, looking down from observation floor, Grand Canyon

Now that’s a long ways down there…that circular area is a part of the second floor, and I think that is where the initial wooden ladder would have gone had they not changed this area (see picture of first floor).  Below this circular area is the area around the outside of the tower where my first shots where taken.

Watchtower, narrow stairway, Grand Canyon

Walking down those narrow stairs seems harder than walking up.  I was thankful for the white stripe at the edge of each stair, at least I could see that through my trifocals.  Except the last flight of stairs where, for some reason, they did not have the white stripe…YIKES!

Watchtower, second floor outside, Grand Canyon

When I got to the second floor, I stepped out onto that circular area I showed earlier looking down when I was at the top.  Low and behold as I looked out to the left, I see this sign with a verse from Psalms on it:  “All the earth worships thee; they sing praises to thee, sing praises to thy name. Psalms 66:4 (Revised Standard Version of the Bible)

Watchtower,  Grand Canyon

As I exit the watchtower, I am thankful for the park bench which I can sit on and contemplate on all that I saw, and watch the various nationalities of people walk by…German, French, Spanish, Pakistani, Chinese, and others with about 40% speaking English, walking by.  Has nothing to do with my sore legs, of course (cough cough)  I also enjoyed the picnic table outside the old snack bar, and after I got my diet pepsi, I enjoyed the last park bench before you get to the parking lot.  Just lots of people from all over the world walking by…what a country!!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Grand Canyon – Condors, Camping and ADA

California Condor, Grand Canyon

It had been nearly a lifetime since I saw a California Condor out in the wild.  This breed of Condors was nearly extinct, and proclaimed extinct in the wild back in 1987 when the last wild Condor was captured, bringing the living number of Condors to 27 birds.  In 1991, Condors started to be released again, and eventually they have been reintroduced in Northern Arizona, Southern Utah, along the Central California coast and lower Sierra Nevada Mountains, and northern Baja California.  The captive breeding took place at the San Diego and Los Angeles zoos.  The California Condor is the largest North American land bird.  Our first stop today was Maricopa Point, and a couple with a large Toy Hauler, who are camping at Trailer Village, showed me where it had landed shortly before I walked up to them.  Wish I could have seen it fly, but it looked like it was going to stay there for awhile.  There are 76 Condors in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, according to the Peregrine Fund, which has monitored them for the past 30 years.  17 condors have hatched in the wild in this area, of which 16 have fledged…and they still are releasing Condors from the Captive Breeding program.

Today we took on the Hermits Rest Route.  At this time of year one must ride one the of free park shuttle buses to Hermits Rest.  However, while at the Visitor’s Center yesterday, I talked to that nice Ranger Lady and I happed to ask if they allowed people with disabilities to drive their own car instead of taking the bus, like Yosemite does.  “Well, we have the same thing here”, she says, and provides us a bright Yellow Placard that we put on the dashboard, and a code to the gate so that we can get onto the roadway.  Well, this was a wonderful treat for Marcia, because riding that bus just was not going to cut it…especially since they said that most motorized scooters would not fit in the bus.  The good thing…all of the pullouts had few to no cars in them, and we even had a few people wonder how we were able to ride along the route…a few who might have had ADA Placards in their own vehicles.  I think this is one of the best kept secrets at the Grand Canyon.  But we have learned to ask…and it has paid off now at a number of parks.

Grand Canyon    Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

Today was a bit cloudy, a lot windy, and a good day to view the canyon.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

It is a great place to take panoramic shots…which I am thankful that my camera takes for me and I no longer have to cut and paste them together as I did a few years ago.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

We got the scooter out two or three times today, other times Marcia was able to enjoy the view right from the car, like these two pictures above.  Yesterday and the day before she got out right at the car…so a person with limited mobility can enjoy Grand Canyon despite the limitations.  Having a scooter is definitely helpful, but not necessary.  However, there are some view points which just are not accessible to those in a wheelchair, scooter, or with a walking problem. 

Hermits Rest, Grand Canyon    Hermits Rest, Grand Canyon

At the end of the drive is Hermits Rest…or is that ‘Restrooms’?  Well, the restrooms are large, clean, fresh pit toilets…no need to flush.  The “rest” is a snack bar, where I did buy a Diet Coke because this high altitude and dry air really does a number on me.  Only a handful of Diet Cokes since I started my diet…and about triple that number of Diet Pepsi, which is better in the diet because it has no aspartame.   Anyway, we were away from the dogs for right around 3 1/2 hours, and they handled it just fine.

Desert View Campground    Desert View Campground

I wanted to provide some information about Desert View Campground.  They warn you that you don’t bring in anything larger than a 30’ motorhome or trailer.  We did not unhook the car until we got to our spot, and we would not have any problems maneuvering through the rest of the park.  I have seen some 32’ motorhomes drive through, and the turns are a bit tight on them.  Our site is a pull through, but the tree at the front of the pull through has low branches, so I backed in from the other side of the pull through.  As you can see, the car fits without a problem.  Each site has a post.  You go to the registration machine, and it only takes credit cards, and you get a long slip of paper once you pay…it does give you option for senior discount, etc.  Two thirds of the paper you fill out information and attach to this post in the upper right picture…they come along and put a white or yellow occupied sign on it.  White means tent, yellow means RV.  During the day many sites look empty because people come with RVs and no tow car, hence they know if there is a white sign and no tent, someone has packed up and left.

Desert View Campground   Desert View Campground

Most of the sites will fit a 30’ RV, with room for a tow car at many of them.  The park website says the campground fills by 1 pm each day…you should make that “by 10 am” each day.  We saw people pulling out and 5 seconds later people pulling into that now vacant site.  If you get here early enough, and drive around, you can look for the posts which have no white or yellow card on them…those are the sites that most likely will vacate that day…unless they decide to pay for more days, as we have done.  Today we paid another $12 for two more days, and on Saturday we will pay $18 to get us through Monday…which is our 7 day limit…and gets us through Memorial Day.  So we expect to be here until Tuesday morning…a good site will open then.   As for the other campgrounds over at the main part of the south rim, well they require reservations.  You ‘might’ luck out and find a cancelation which might give you a night or two…but chances are not good during the late spring, summer and early fall time periods.  There are many National Forest roads where one can “disperse camp” for free, and the rangers will help show you on a map where those are.  We saw a few camping on our way in…I expect many will be there over the weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Grand Canyon Sunset – MORE Days to come

Grand Canyon Sunset

Last night we did go out to view the sunset…went to a place nearby called Mohave Point.  Got there about 7 pm, the sun hit the bluffs on the northwest rim right around 7:30…by 7:50 we were back home to feed the dogs. 

Grand Canyon Sunset     Grand Canyon Sunset

Grand Canyon Sunset

The light on eastern wall (top left picture) enhances the sides of the canyon walls, giving more depth perception in a picture than you capture during the heat of the day.  The Desert View Watchtower glistens in the remaining sunlight, and turns reddish as the rays get closer to disappearing.  And yes, there are people at the base of the Watchtower.  The Watchtower, a four-story structure, was completed in 1932, and designed by American architect Mary Colter, an employee of the Fred Harvey Company, which owned the Harvey House chain of restaurants and hotels. 

Grand Canyon Sunset

My first Grand Canyon Sunset…what a sight.

Grand Canyon     Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

Today we picked up from where we left off yesterday.  It seems that at every turnout, there is another and different picture.  And with clouds in the sky, the picture changes before your very eyes.

Grand Canyon

We went to the visitor’s center and say their movie on the Grand Canyon, and talked with a Ranger Lady who gave us a ADA Placard (really, just a piece of paper) which allows us to drive in areas where others have to ride a bus to see.  As we passed through one such area, Yaki Point, Marcia got this picture as we drove through.  Can’t park where the buses let off and take on riders.  There is a parking place at the far west part of the loop, but we decided not to stop.

Elk at Grand Canyon    Elk at Grand Canyon

Elk at Grand Canyon

We also saw a bunch (about a dozen) Elk today.  The first one, upper left picture, was near Mather Campground where we were checking out the RV Dump Station and the Grocery Store.  The other pictures were just on the way back.  First time either of us had seen Elk at the Grand Canyon.  These Elk seem to be use to Humans, much like the ones in Yellowstone…but even more so.  Probably due to the lack of predators that they have to be worried about here compared to the Wolf and Bears in Yellowstone.  Oh, and WHY the dump station since we just emptied in Phoenix?   We have decided to stay here through Memorial Day.  This campground, which had we tried to get in today would have been impossible, is nice, quiet, we have a great spot, there are nice folks from all over the place, and we can be here for up to 7 days…so why take a chance finding a better place over the busy Memorial Day Weekend?