Friday, May 28, 2010

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and all stops between

We headed off to Pahrump Nevada to visit Dick's nephew and his mom. It was great to see the family again and spend some quality time with all of them. Another nice dinner with Gail and the family (thanks Gail for another great meal).

Dick had several projects he wanted to get done so we decided to go to another park in town. It was within close walking distance from two casinos and the park has several shops for those that have crafts and projects to do.

Dick was in his glory after checking out the wood shop. He spent part of 3 days making a new bookcase and other things for the rig. They have about every power and hand tool one needs for wooding working projects and all they ask is a $2.00 donation to use the shop. Did we tell you that the our camping fee for this park was free but we could only stay seven nights. We had planned to stay four nights, but at that price we decided to stay for all seven. This also put us out on a Monday rather than Friday so we figured it would be easier to get a space at our next destination.

Because this is our third trip here and we have seen most of the area and it was over 100 degrees at Death Valley, we decided to take a day trip to see what we could find.

We ended up taking a loop drive that took us to The Date Farm for a date shake and to see what the farm was like.

They had several gardens with lots of cactus and some of it was starting to bloom. We wish we could stick around to see it all in bloom but maybe next time.

A closer look at the flowers on this choya are very beautiful.

We pulled out as planned on Monday, trying to reach a County park southeast of Kingman Arizona. Jackie had found a park called Hualapai Mountain County park. We arrived in Kingman without any problems and started up Hualapai Mt. road. We passed through several residential areas and then into an area with lots of trees. The problem was that the road got steeper and steeper and we are sure there was a time the truck was headed straight up.

It was so steep that the truck was over heating and we had to pull off to let it cool down. Continuing again it got even steeper and then we finally found the park. We let the engine cool down again after checking in only to be told to follow the narrow road "up" the hill to the RV campsites. The .8 miles to the campsite was again straight up. When we finally got to our site it took about a half hour to get the engine to cool down.

We finally picked a space as there was only one other rig in this area of the park, set up and then Dick started to worry how we are going to get back down off this mountain.

We are not even sure if we can get out of this spot because of trees that we have to get around but the hill to get back to the road is loose gravel so there is no stopping once we get going. We will just have to wait 2 days and see what happens.

It was great being back in the trees and mountains. We hiked an old road that continued up past the campground and also took a day trip to the town of Oatman which is a old mining town that is trying to survive on tourist trade only.

As soon as we got out of the truck we were greeted by one of the local Burros trying to mooch some food from us.

There must have been over 25 burros wandering the streets, and by the time we left, the town smelled a little ripe and for some strange reason there were quite a few large flies all around.

Dick posed so Jackie could get a picture in front of one of the many shops.

We arrived back to camp and the next day hooked up and we decided to try and pull up the hill rather than back through the campground and down the road to turn around. Pulling out with Jackie watching for tree clearance, we made the 90 degree turn without hitting a tree, and with the truck in 4wd low we slowly made it up the dirt portion of the road.

Then it was several miles down a very steep slope. By the time we reached the exit, our breaks were starting to heat up. We pulled out onto the main road and started down. We had to try and stop after about 3 miles because we could smell the breaks. By the time we got stopped our breaks were smoking and the emergency would not hold so Dick had to get out and put rocks in front of the wheels while we waited for the breaks to cool down.

After about 15 minutes we tried it again but in low gear picked up a little more speed so we could stay off the breaks more. We finally made it off the mountain and when we got to our next stop we could still smell the breaks. It was sure touch and go for a little while there.

We finally made it to our destination of Grand Canyon National Park and went into the park to see if there was a space for us. No luck so we ended camping about a mile outside of the park, a little expensive but we can make it work.

After setting up we headed back into the park to see the canyon and this is what we saw as soon as we reached the rim. Don't know who the people are but this first shot gives some idea of scale of what we are looking at.

This is looking across the canyon to the north rim; wow what a sight to see. The weather is in the low 70's during the day and the nights in the low 40's, so it's just right for lots of hikes.

Yes we are on the edge of the rim and one more step back we would drop only about 2000'.

We will post another blog or two of the Grand Canyon later but in closing here is a shot for you to contemplate.
Dick said "now I know why I drink".

It's off to Utah in the morning.

To be continued:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Las Vegas with family

The past eight days Deanna, Darin and girls joined us in Las Vegas. They had a cabin just two spaces down from us, and it worked out great. We had such a fun time! They just left this morning and we miss them already (even CC, who loves cleaning up after two small ones).

We went swimming in the pool at the RV park several times. The pool toys we rented from Las Vegas Baby Equipment were perfect! Here is Daisy with Darin.

And Dani with Gram and Mama. Both girls loved the water.
One day we spent walking the Strip, Dani in the backpack and Daisy walking with the adults (boy, was she a trooper!). Here is Daisy with the "castle" in the background. Hold on Daisy as it's a 30' drop to the traffic below you.

And here we are walking, Daisy checking to see where Grampa is. We think she enjoys people watching as much as we do!

At the M&M Store (4 stories!), Daisy got to pick three kinds of M&Ms for her special treats. A hard choice, but she made it!

A shot looking down the Strip:

One day Deanna's cousin, Tim and his girlfriend, Kelli came to visit. Deanna and Tim had never met, so it was quite an experience. Tim and Kelli accompanied us to the pool and watched the Gemmers swim and play. It was great to see them. Deanna and Tim:

Deanna and Daisy watching the fountain at the Bellagio. It was worth the wait!

Just one shot of the fountain. Of course it is set to music, so you can't get the full effect.

One day we went to Hoover Dam. Here is Daisy, enjoying herself waiting for Papa to catch up to the rest of us (He had to go back to the truck to leave his knife.).

A picture of us at Hoover Dam, with the new bridge in the background. The new bridge is set to open in November and people will no longer be driving over the dam.

After leaving Hoover Dam we drove to Lake Mead for lunch, then Daisy, Mama, Papa and Grampa fed the fish at the marina while Dani and Gram stayed in the truck for a little nap.

Of course we had to go to the Fremont Street Experience. Dick had to get a picture of all the people taking pictures of the ceiling, and he caught Dani on the right. Even though it was well past her bedtime, she is definitely having fun!

We did so much in the time they were here, and this is just a snapshot. What a fun time!
Did you notice that this is the first post this year without pictures of red rocks?

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fiery Furnace...

Our last post was about our last hike but lets go back a week or so for another great and beautiful "stroll" through the "slickrock" and fins in an area that you need a permit or go with a guide. Not sure of the length, but it takes about 3 1/2 hours to get through, that is if you can find your way out. This is what we had to look forward to when we entered the maze called the Fiery Furnace.

We got this off the web where someone tried to use a GPS to show the route and side trails around the Fiery Furnace. We think this is a Google Earth shot of a small portion of this area of the park.

A nice wide portion of the trail at the start with a group of about 25 people we ended up with. Looks easy, but don't be fooled as it's only the start. Don't look back because you will never find your way out now.

A side trip to view another area with pools still with water in them. The animals still find their way to this area. It's a dead-end except back through this arch but if you look close there is another way out...

and this is Dick taking the "other way out". A little tight but he and a few others made it through. Jackie went out the same way she came in, a lot easier. A little out of focus but you get the picture. Yes, that's a play on words.

Up over the slickrock and down around that narrow tall fin, hoping today's not the day it tips over. Great bunch of people to hike with, everyone helping each other through the tight and hard spots.

This one gives you some idea of the height of these fins and why one can get lost so easily in here. One of the few spots where the sun gets down to the ground:

This is one of about 3 arches that we got to view; some of these weren't found until several years ago. This place is just so big.

Another side trip to the base of a waterfall dropping into a dry wash. Glad it's not raining in the area today or we would be getting real wet. The partial cave behind Jackie is just an area that has been washed out of the rock during all the floods.

There is no other way out from here except the way we came in unless you want to try and

climb the sheer rock face. Not for us.

The finger at the top was Dick trying to shut out the glare from the sun so we can show you how it's starting to get pretty narrow. Yes, we do have to go through that very tight slot and what you don't see is there is a very steep hill to climb at the same time.

Another side trip and another Arch. This one is called Surprise Arch. It was named when some people were out researching the area and one person went up this narrow slot, found the arch and called back to his friends "come up here because I have a big surprise for you".

With the help of our guide we finally headed down through another slot around more fins and finally found our way out.

We took over 1,200 pictures in the two months we spent at Arches but we finally hit the road on April 29th and spent the first day back on the road at Page Arizona and then three nights in Hurricane Utah on our way to the big city of Las Vegas for 2 weeks. We arrived Las Vegas on Monday the 3rd of May.
Our friend Kathy asked "It looked a little tricky, where were the trail signs? how did you know which ridge to go over? Or was it the well worn path of many other hikers?"
No signs but the Park Service has placed "cairns" (piles of rocks) to mark the trail if you can find them. They are on most trails at Arches except there is nothing at Fiery Furnace so you better go with a guide.

Not sure where the wind will blow us after that, but be sure we will have a great time.

To be continued...