Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Year end travel map

We've been staying at our usual spot in Fort McDowell, AZ while visiting doctors, friends and family in the Phoenix area. I've fit in some hiking in the McDowell mountains but mostly we've been really busy.
Four Peaks in clouds from Eagle View
RV Resort

View of Fountain Hills from
Sunrise Peak in the McDowell Mtns
It's time for the annual map with our travel route. Our 2014 route had a lot of similarity to 2013 simply because we had enjoyed our summer of 2013 so much we decided to go back to Montana again and volunteer for the U.S. Forest Service. As blog entries throughout the year reported, we did see new sites in our travels, it was not just a repeat.

We had a great year and are looking forward to getting back to the mid-west in 2015.
Travel map

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Back in AZ - Sedona

From Monument Valley we headed down to Camp Verde for a couple of weeks. We visited some friends that we met on the road (in NY) who bought a house in Cottonwood and did several trips to Sedona to hike.

We are now back down near Phoenix for a while before moving on to Tucson in January.

View from Cockscomb trail

View from Cockscomb trail

Panoramic pic from Girdner trailhead

View along Girdner trail

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Monument Valley

From Aztec New Mexico we went over to Monument Valley on the border of Arizona and Utah in the Navajo Tribal Park. It had been twenty something years since we had been there so we wanted to go back. This time we did a guided tour (deluxe) through the Goulding's campground where we were staying. This turned out to be a great decision as our guide (Joe) was very informative and enjoyable to listen to. He is a Navajo and gave us great insight into the Navajo culture as part of the tour.

Monument Valley - Mitten

Monument Valley - Three Sisters

Traditional Navajo Hogan

Monument Valley - Totem Pole (left)
and dancers

Monument Valley - wind cave called
Big Hogan

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Aztec National Monument

Our next stop is Aztec, New Mexico. We visited the Aztec Ruins National Monument. I must first repeat what they said - the Aztecs of Central America were never here. The first discoverers of the ruins misnamed them, and the name stuck. That being said, the Pueblo people of the area lived here from around 1100 to the late 1200's. The masonry work here is the most impressive that we've seen in the many ruins that we've been to in the Southwest. Plus, they hauled in the stone from up to 3 miles away and the wood supports from 50 miles away without the aid of machinery or pack animals. Wow, what a feat!
National Park Service link

As with all ruins, looting and "re-purposing" of artifacts and materials took it's toll. Even with that, this is an impressive site to visit.  Many walls, and a few ceilings still stand after 900 years. Yikes. I'm glad we stopped for a visit.
View inside compound

What is left of 800 year old yucca
"screen door"

900 year old ceiling still intact

Inside compound

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Great Sand Dunes National Park

We left Denver to head to Arizona for the winter. We've driven by the road to the Great Sand Dunes many times and decided to take advantage of beautiful weather and go that way on this trip. We went west on US 160 off of I-25 and stopped at a tiny RV park in Blanca. The next morning we drove the 20ish miles to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Remember, pictures never do justice.

Dunes from Visitor Center
left half of view
Dunes from Visitor Center
right half of view
The base of the dunes is at an elevation around 8000 feet and many are 600 and 700 feet tall. The Sangre De Cristo Mountains border the east and north and the San Luis Valley is to the south and west. The San Luis valley used to be a lake bottom. When the lake dried up, the prevailing winds blew the sandy bottom to the northeast to the base of the mountains. Storm winds and water wash the sand down to keep it out of the mountains. The sand ended up piling up in dunes at the base of the mountains where it just keeps recycling. Read all about it at: NPS site.
View going up trail to lookout

Panoramic view
The San Luis Valley was the furthest most range of the Spanish dating back to the 1600s. Navajos and other Native Americans have inhabited the land for over 11,000 years.

San Luis Valley from the park

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


It has been a while since my last post. We've been hanging around the Denver area for the last two months. We took a day trip to Georgetown and up to Guanella Pass, we've been to Rocky Mountain National Park a couple times and then to Breckenridge to check it out and visit with friends.  Mostly the stay in Denver is about visiting our daughter's family.
Georgetown is a neat old town with lots of historic homes and buildings. We went on a week day in September and it was very peaceful. We just walked around for a while and then drove up the winding road to Guanella Pass at treeline. (Link to Georgetown info)


Georgetown from road to
Guanella Pass

View at Guanella Pass

We made two trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. The first trip we mainly drove the Trail Ridge Road to Alpine Visitor Center stopping at all of the scenic pullouts to take it all in. We walked a little bit on the historic Ute Trail but it was bitter cold so that didn't last long. This trail was used for thousands of years by native peoples following herds of elk as they migrated across the mountains. It was very neat to walk the same trail so we'll have to go back when it is warmer and go further.
Rocky Mtn Natl Park
View at Many Parks Curve
View at Rainbow Curve
View from Deer Mountain trail
View just east of Alpine Visitor Center

Our second trip into the park was focused on hiking and then later in the day viewing and listening to elk "bugling". After walking around Sprague Lake we hiked to Alberta Falls. We then went back toward to the meadows and saw elk and listened to the bulls bugling. They call it bugling but it sounded more like a high pitched squeal to us.
Bull Elk

Alberta Falls

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Devils Tower

We headed out from Montana to work our way south. We'll do our usual stop to spend time near Denver to visit Angela and family. We ended up taking a route that made sense for us to stop by Devils Tower National Monument. We've talked about going there for a very long time and we finally did. We were not disappointed.  Sure, we set our expectations low, but the entire area was very nice.
Here is a link to read all about it: NPS link

View from road as approaching

View from park road

View from another side lookout in park

View from Red Bed trail.
The only alien I saw.

Friday, August 22, 2014

One last big hike in Yellowstone Natl Park

It's about time for us to head south again so it was time to get in my big hike. The weather hadn't been good for the last few weeks so when a nice day came along it was my calling. It was time for the 20 mile Bighorn Pass trail from Highway 191 all the way into the park on the loop road at Indian Creek Campground. Ann dropped me off at the trail head at 7 am. It was 34 degrees (yes, on August 17 there was frost on the ground). I made the 11 miles to the pass in about 5 hours and finished in a little over 10 hours. It was a great hike. Here are a few pictures.
Sun coming up over mountains and
the Gallatin river


Gallatin river up stream, not so big

Mountain goats at the top

Looking back down the valley I hiked up.
From pass at 9139 feet.

Looking east from the pass

Sunday, July 27, 2014

And the hikes continue

I've been hiking as much as I can in the Gallatin National Forest. It is all mountain hiking around here so it is about hiking up a mountain and then back down. I'm doing longer and longer hikes building up my endurance for a big finale before we leave.

My next hike was up the Watkins Creek trail to Coffin Lake with a side jaunt up the West Fork trail. About 13 miles round trip with about 2600 foot elevation change.
Watkins Creek trail near trail head.
Hebgen Lake in the distance.

Wild flowers

Wild flowers

Coffin Lake

Coffin Lake
Next we went into Yellowstone for a couple of hikes in one day. First we did a short one that was only about 2 miles round trip to Ice Lake and then another 2.25 miles round trip to the Monument Geyser Basin.

The Ice Lake hike was through a burn area and there were no real good views of the lake so it wasn't very interesting.

The Monument Geyser Basin hike was very difficult. It was only a little over a mile one way but most of it was up a very steep trail. The geyser basin isn't all that interesting but the view in the distance was nice.

View from Monument Geyser Basin
looking southeast

Monument Geyser Basin

Monument Geyser Basin

View to north from trail to Monument
Geyser Basin