Thursday, May 28, 2009

From Shannon's, we went to probably our favorite vacation destination - Southeast Utah. We have spent many weeks in the past exploring the canyons - not the National Parks, but the out of the way spots where few go. Because we wanted to end our Utah time at the east end of Lake Powell, we traveled up through Kayenta, Mexican Hat, and Bluff to the Comb Ridge area. The road on the east side of Comb Ridge is very much 4WD, so we checked out the road on the west side - unhooking the trailer and driving about 8 miles of it in the truck. We probably could have done the whole thing with the trailer on, but decided to not take a chance and drove the long way around, through Blanding. We knew approximately where we wanted to camp - a BLM area along Comb Wash. The northern most end of the previously mentioned road has a couple of undeveloped camp areas with pit toilets, but they were pretty populated and we wanted some "quiet" time, so drove on down the road a ways until we saw a side road. I walked in to check and see if the trailer could make it - then we drove in and found a pretty darn nice spot. In the photo below you can see the side road in and our camp site - marked with the blue arrow - and Mule Canyon - marked with the red arrow. More on Mule later.
This is the spot. Gathered wood for a campfire a couple of evenings. Nice!
We did a lot of hiking while we were camped here - loved the HUGE cottonwood trees. Dean wanted to have some reference as to how big they were. The roots on this one were mostly exposed.
Another view of the same tree - a nice spring came down Mule Canyon - I tried to hike to the source, but never made it. Several miles up the canyon - no trail or just a faint one - I finally gave up because I told Dean I was going to walk "a little ways" - I knew he would worry and I didn't have the walkie talkie with me..........
This was another big tree we found when Dean was gathering bark for his carving projects. All that you see here is from one tree!! Parts have come off and lie at the base of the tree. I found this one on my hike up the canyon along the spring. It is probably difficult to tell from the photo, but the original tree is dead - fallen every which way - and a new one is growing out of the center of the dead trunk. You can tell how big this one was by all the dead branches.One of our hikes. Most of the were cross country - Dean is checking the GPS. Here, we are in the rocks behind our camp site. The green in the middle ground is from the spring.
Abbey is cooling off by lying in the middle of the spring. Smart dog!Here is our camp site from the rocks behind it. The spring flows by on this side of the trailer - the trees in back aren't on the spring.
Campers before us had built this little sweat lodge. Dean's takin it easy. So is Abbey!
Before we left this site, I cleadned up the trailer real good. Here is a couple of days worth of dirt. Home sweet home - for someone, sometime.
Some of the many Anasazi ruins in Mule Canyon.We hiked into this ruin - called House on Fire. We wern't there at the optimum time of day, but pretty close. It is an amazing ruin, but the way the light plays off the ceiling area is just magical. I first saw a photo of it by famous black and white photographer John Sexton and I had always wanted to just see it - being able to photograph it was a bonus!
From Comb Ridge/Wash area, we went to Blanding for the usual dump and refill. While we were at Comb, we met a man who highly recommended going to Hovenweep. Neither of us had ever been there before - it is quite out of the way - but we decided to check it out and we were quite impressed. These are not cliff dwellings, but fully constructed rock structures located on the tops of the cliffs. Notice the workmanship - the rocks are carefully placed so that there are only openings where they wanted them to be. Most of the walls are very "plumb"Thunderboomers building fast, so gotta turn off the 'puter for now - will finish this later.....

OK - it's later and some of the storms have passed - more on the way..........

Back to Hovenweep - it was quite the place. As I said, the workmanship on the rock walls was amazing - compare theirs to the ones later in this post.

On to our major destination - Lake Powell!! We have camped in this specific spot, where the Colorado and Dirty Devil Rivers come in to form the lake, several times and look forward to another. Last time, we camped on the rocks, put in our kayaks and paddled up the Dirty Devil River quite a ways. It's an absolutely gorgeous place to camp - especially in the evening when the light plays off the rocks. So, it is with much anticipation that we drive westward.

As we pass over the high bridge over the Colorado, I notice that the water is VERY dirty - and appears rather low. When we get to the bridge over the Dirty Devil, there is almost NO water under the bridge. As we approach our favorite camp spot, we have good news and bad news. First the good news - BLM have installed several of the nice new pit toilets in the camping area - there were none before.....
And the bad news?
Granted, it's been a number of years since we had been there, but I was totally shocked! Most of what you see in the photos below was under water the last time we were there.These photos below were taken from the overlook - looking east with the Colorado coming in on the right and the Dirty Devil trickling in on the left. The dark red areas on the left and in the center were the only parts that were out of water before - all the lighter rock and what is green (Tamarisk, or Salt Cedar - a VERY invasive plant) were totally under water.

So, since we didn't want to camp there :( - we headed to another past favorite - Temple Wash - North of Hanksville and near Goblin Valley. We were in for another surprise. BLM had fenced off our favorite camp area there to protect it from the 4 wheelers and other OHV's. Again, they had improved the large camp area with pit toilets, but it was now basically a parking lot for the big toy haulers and trailers. We went up the road a ways and found an "acceptable" spot for the night. Went for a couple of walks exploring the area and picking up nice pieces of sandstone for another of Dean's "projects".
While out exploring, we came across this fallen down rock structure left over from when they mined the area for uranium. Notice the difference in the construction from the Anasazi ruins? And these below are probably less than 100 years old vs. 1200 for the Anasazi ruins. Hmmmmm

From Temple Wash, we headed West - towards home! We did make a stop in the Northwestern part of the Humbolt Forest - in an area that just may have had some gold..... NOT!
We found a place to leave the trailer while we explored - though we didn't get very far because of the snow.
Stopped to check on Rio Tinto - a place I had visited many, many years before. The old school is still there. When I was last there, the settling ponds from the mining operation were red from the chemicals used - the government came in and cleaned up the area a few years ago. Copper was discovered in 1932 and was up to 47% pure. Rio Tinto became a ghost town in the 50's after operations were ceased in 1948.
Nearby, on the highway, is Patsville, another ghost town which was populated during the mining days. There are quite a few buildings still standing, though probably not for long. The Owyhee River was running through them when we were there. The open door to the right of the old washing machine has a river coming out of it.

Well, that's about it for the trip. We left Patsville and drove straight home. In the next few days, I will show you what we've been doing around here. Thanks for joining us on our vacation!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Part 3 of ...............

If you're just getting back to my blog (like I am - ahem..) as few words of intro
We recently returned from a 2 month trip and I have finally managed to get my photos ready to post. I am doing the trip in order, beginning from a couple of posts back. Hope you enjoy our "vacation" even a little as much as we did :)

We spent another night at our favorite little RV park in Quartzite again - the usual - laundry, showers, dump, and fill. Then we met up with Jim and Janet again headed for gold country - we hope!
We spent a rather "interesting" night in a camp spot near Stanton, Az - home of many gold claims. That's the problem - there is probably gold in the area, but everything is pretty much claimed up. The dirt road to get there was - bumpy, to say the least, so we were somewhat disappointed to find - nothing! Our campsite for the evening was loaded with spent and not spent shells of many sizes. I picked up probably 15 pounds of spent and at least a box of unspent 22 shells and various others. It gave me something to do.......... Strange, I know.
From there, we climbed, and climbed, and climbed some more - gained maybe 3000' through some very interesting country on our drive to Prescott. That's Pres'-cut - - not Pres-cot. Through town - no bypass in this area - and out to Lynx Lake. This area has public mining, similar to that at Keysville, managed by the Forest Service and BLM. We found a site at one of the 2 campgrounds on or near the lake and settled in - we thought for a couple of days, but ended up staying for a week! Obviously, they guys FINALLY found some gold!!! Here is our campsite - a double site with a shelter, nice tables, a fire pit, and dumpster, water and restrooms nearby. Paradise!
The guys are hard at work

A couple of days before we were to leave, the guys met John, a real nice kid from Flagstaff who was up doing some panning for the weekend. He learned from his grandfather and wanted to try his luck. He spent our last day there with us and we had a great time getting to know him. John is in the white shirt in the photo below - Janet to the left and Jim to the right.
While the guys were out finding our fortune (NOT!) Janet and I took Abbey for a walk along the lakeside trail. Again, fishing piers extending out into the lake. I think the fish here would be fine to eat :)
After Lynx and a night in an RV park to refresh, we said our goodbyes to Jim and Janet. They were headed back to Vegas to see the house they bought - a whole story in itself - and Jimbo. We were on our way to see Shannon - Dean's youngest - in Overgaard, Az.
I had no idea how beautiful the area would be. Up on the Mogollon Rim at about 7000' in elevation, the scenery is much like the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest. The night we spent camping on our way to Shannon's was a little chilly, so Dean was looking for his favorite flannel shirt . It was here that I realized that I had left it - and 2 pair of his jeans and one of my favorite shirts - in the dryer at the RV park in Prescott. Woe is me - it is hell to get old and forget things!! I'm sure that none of you have ever done anything stupid like that!

So, we get to Shannon's and get set up in his front yard. Nice! The next day, we went out to see his property which is about 45 minutes out of town - seemingly in the middle of nowhere. He is buying 82 acres of fairly flat land and has great plans to build an earthship someday, so has collected hundreds of tires for the foundation. He has actually lived in the trailer and in the schoolbus you can see on the property as well as in a teepee - since removed.
Dean and Shannon replaced the front brakes on his car while we were there. I think they did as much talking as working though.........
Shannon's dog, Sage, and Abbey became good friends - thank goodness - because Shannon is coming up here to stay with us for the summer as soon as his mother visits him in Overgaard. We are looking forward to having him around - and having his help around the place for some projects that Dean has planned. Dean - projects? Always!We went for a ride one afternoon up Black Canyon and hiked up to an old Indian dwelling that Shannon knew of. Apparently someone else had found it because most of the walls had been knocked over :(Whoever it was, however, left the matate and grinding stone. Someone must have used it a lot because it is very deep.We were fortunate to have been able to get to know several of Shannon's good friends. Twice we went to Betty and Wayne's for dinner. Photo below was a birthday dinner for Betty's Dad - James Bond. Really - that is his name!This is Betty and JamesGeorge Bond, Betty's brother, Shannon, and James. They've adopted Shannon, I think! George and James live near Shannon's property.Betty, James, and Dean. Since Dean's birthday was coming up in a few days, Betty even made him a cake, too!
Betty and Wayne
Thanks to all the Bonds - we had a great time getting to know you all and hope to see you again!

The next installment........

Since it was terribly windy at Parker and it was coming from the south, we decided to stay an extra day instead of heading into the wind. Good decision! From Parker, we headed down to Quartzite. Since we had been dry camping for several days, we stopped at a nice little RV park for the usual, then the next morning headed to the desert. In January and February, there are gem shows in and around Quartzite and the population swells to almost 1 million, but at this time of the year, the snowbirds are winging their way north, so we were able to find a pretty nice spot to park for about 5 days. The guys went out every day with their detectors - no luck, but they had a good time and got some exercise. Janet and I went for walks and read. The weather was pretty decent.
This was our camp site at sunset one night.
Before heading into civilization, we drove up to Mitry Lake - kind of backwater from the Colorado River which then is sent to canals for irrigation. I had no idea how many crops are grown in the Yuma area! The lake is a haven for wildlife - birds of all kinds - so we enjoyed our days there. Kayaked several times. The lake has about 10 of these constructed fishing piers out in the water - complete with palm trees. During the day, people were using them pretty heavily, but we read somewhere that the fish from the lake are heavily contaminated with fertilizer, pesticides, etc. I don't think I would want to eat them! I took this photo from my kayak - Abbey is wondering what the heck I'm doing!Janet didn't want to get out! Now that we got her in a kayak, we can't get her out of it. There were lots of these reeds and grasses around the lake - very few places to get from land to water - or water to land!All those days in the dusty desert made us long for a nice warm shower, of course, so we found a VERY nice RV park in Yuma where we hung out by the pool (after showering.....) for 2 days. Nicest park I've ever stayed in, for sure!
While at the RV park, we met Ron in the pool - remember Ron Michaels from 910 KISN days? Well, one and the same!! When we went to Los Algodones. who did we run into at the dentist office, but RON! While his wife (whose name I can't for the life of me think of) and Jim were having dental work done, Ron, Dean, Janet and I went to lunch. As luck would have it - there was a resturant that was having their annual birthday celebration - free food and FREE MARGARITAS!!!!!!!!!!!! We started out on the patio - very HOT!Ron took our photo.
We were able to move inside where is was much nicer. There was music, various kinds of entertainment, and excellent people watching. Ron called his daughter and we all talked to her. The ceiling of the resturant/bar was plastered with paper money - from where, I don't know - couldn't get close enough.
Time to head back over the border. This day, we were a bit late, as you can tell from the lines - of cars and of people. We parked on the US side and walked over. Our wait was a couple of hours, but someone in a car said theirs was even longer. The next time we went over, we went early and came back earlier. Very little wait.(I don't know how to move these photos - I wanted them all in a row......)
This little cutie was one of many little kids who were either entertaining the tourists or selling some sort of trinket. They were EVERYWHERE! Walking around Los Algodones is a real experience. Every vendor wants you to buy something from them. I got pretty good at saying no. But this little guy was soooo cute. Blowing bubbles with his gum and playing the little accordian. And looking at all the tourista.

Time to get back on the water. As many of you know, there is not much left of the Colorado River around Yuma. It has been piped all over the place for irrigation and drinking water. More about this in another post........
So, we headed up to Squaw Lake (they evidently haven't got the politically correct message around there yet......) There was a dump nearby at the Long Term snowbird area, so we took advantage of it before heading to the "campground" - which ended up being basically a parking lot. With lines - 1 RV to a spot, just like in a mall parking lot. But, they did have nice, hot showers, so that was a plus. And a lake - again, just kind of backwater from the Colorado River. We kayaked to our heart's content - hours every day we were there. We found a nice channel that ran somewhat parallel to the river and it was a pleasant paddle - until someone on a jet ski came blasting around a corner. Now, I'm sure that they are a ton of fun, but a 10' wide, very windy channel might not be the best place. Just sayin'.

Someone forgot their hat on this paddle!
From Squaw Lake, Jim and Janet went back into Yuma to the fancy RV park, and Dean and I went exploring. First destination - Palm Canyon. "Perhaps the only native palm trees in Arizona are tucked away in narrow, rugged canyons on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. The Palm Canyon Trail is a rugged hike and takes you near a stand of these unique plants, called California fan palms, Washingtonia filifera."
We're headed up this canyon
From the top of the trail looking back down to the parking lot.
A VERY pooped puppy! But she is clean - got a nice bath in Yuma and a cute little scarf which stayed on for almost the rest of the trip!
So, we get to the end of the trail and here is the sign..............
And here are the palms - as indicated by the arrow. You can see them, but it would have been a steeper and ruggeder hike to see them up close and personal - so we didn't!The trail - up to the sign - was, indeed, pretty rugged. This is the trail - all the way like this.
Next bit of exploring was Crystal Mountain - where you're supposed to be able to pick up real crystals. Not! We scoured that place - found a lot of quartz, but no crystals. Oh, well, good exercise, huh!
We spent the night at one of the many areas around Quartzite and went out exploring the next morning. Only interesting thing we came across was this "golf course" Had to put these photos in for all you golfers! I guess when there is no course around, you go out and make your own!
To be continued.................