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Gallup, NM

Where were we last? Oh, Moab I think. I’ve been without cell or wifi signal for several days. Well we drove a couple hours to Valley of the Gods between Mexican Hat and Bluff, UT. It’s about 15 miles of dirt road winding through a gorgeous valley……it’s called a miniature Monument Valley, and I think that’s true! We got a very nice campsite in view of some of the “monuments” and drove the long dirt road, which had some hills so steep, we couldn’t see the road over the car’s hood when we crested the top! We saw another pretty King snake on the road.

Then the next morning we got up early and hotfooted it to Chinle, AZ to Canyon de Chelly. We were worried about being able to get a shady campsite at Cottonwood Campground, as we were having to leave the dogs in the campers during our tour the next morning. And it was Saturday on Memorial Day Weekend! Camping there is $14 a night (no senior discount) and the middle part has huge cottonwood trees, very nice! But there are lots of “goatheads” which are very very nasty hard stickers. They actually stick into the bottoms of our shoes!!!  So you can imagine what it’s like for the dogs to walk on them, OWWW!   We stayed there 2 nights and the first evening we drove the roads to the north and south rims.  Yesterday morning early we took a private 4 hr. tour of the canyon, and if you haven’t done the tour, you haven’t seen Canyon de Chelly at all.  It was a GREAT tour in a big Suburban (or open Jeep) which drives right up the river at times,  crossing and re-crossing many times. From the canyon floor you can see all the ruins up close….some of the ruins are in people’s back yards!!  A lot of Navajo people live in the canyon in summer; most of them live outside the canyon in winter because it gets very cold. There’s no electricity or water in the canyon, so most of the people live very much the same way as they used to, though we did see some huge arrays of solar panels and a DirecTV dish  at our guide’s aunt’s house!    We also saw quite a few pictographs and petroglyphs on the canyon walls.

 

Our guide was  “Harris”, a cute Navaho guy in his late 30’s. He told us tons of information about the Navajo people and the canyon. We passed lots of residents along the way and it seemed like they were always some relative of Harris’s. He told us the Navajo are originally from Mongolia, and they came across the ice bridge to Alaska. Their language is almost identical to the Athabascan language of the Alaskan natives!  We were not allowed to take any photos of the residents or their homes or livestock, without permission.  The 4 hour tour included Antelope House which is one of the best ruins, and you don’t get to see that at all on the 3 hour tours. And the extra hour only cost $10 more!  ($210 for 3 people). It was well worth it….one of the highlights of my whole trip!  Both days I had stupid neighbors who ran their generators constantly. UGH!

This morning we headed out, it’s the end of our 5.5 week tour. Jeanne and Joanne are headed for relatives in Kansas and I’m headed back to NC to get my car tags renewed.  Deb stayed behind in Moab and is making her way up to Idaho!

A little red battery icon was lit on my dashboard the whole way and when I got to Gallup, NM and turned the car off, it refused to start again. So something in the charging system. I spent an hour on the phone with Good Sam Roadside Assistance trying to get a tow truck; turns out my plan had expired in March and they sent renewal notices in the mail, and I didn’t get any of them. They allowed me to renew the plan today and get wrecker service right away, after some begging and pleading. (I didn’t cry!) Then it took more than an hour for the wrecker to show up. They made me drop the camper in Wendy’s parking lot, and the car got towed to Pep Boys, the only repair place open today…..and it was across the road from Wendy’s and maybe 1/4 mile down! I could have pushed the car there faster myself!!!  I waited for 4 hours there and right before closing time they finally said I needed a new alternator and battery. $700.  Good thing I just got my Social Security check, but June is gonna be a real hard month!  They couldn’t get the work done today so one of their employees gave us a ride back to the camper and I am going to have to sleep here in Wendy’s parking lot. I hope it’s safe; I’ve already got out my shrieking boat horn and my trusty hatchet! I wonder if the police will come and boot me out too. Tomorrow morning we’ll have to walk back to Pep Boys and it’s a bit farther than I’ve been walking so I know my knee will not be happy.

I’m also having a lot of problems with my camper fridge. I can’t seem to get it to go much under 5o degrees. I guess I’m going to have to throw out all the meat but I hope the cheese, butter and eggs will be OK. I hate to waste all that money, especially now. When I get back to NC I’ll have to get that checked out, I’m hoping maybe it just wants a little shot of freon after 12 years. A new fridge, even a teeny 1.9 cu. ft. one like mine, costs around $700! Ahh, that seems to be the magic number lately.  😦

Thank you very much for your Amazon orders and PayPalMe!  May was a good month, a little over $170 in Amazon earnings!!  Too bad I don’t get it for another two months……

 

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Moab, UT

My first choice of campground in Moab was completely full by 11 a.m. (Goose Island CG on Hwy. 128). It’s right on the Colorado River and has shade trees, and is only a few miles from town. We ended up at Williams Bottom (??) CG about 6 miles up Hwy. 279, so it’s about 10 miles from town. We have a little shade too, and beautiful views in all directions. The river is across the road from the campground.  The weather is perfect…high 70’s day, 50’s night!  It costs $7.50 per night with the Geezer Pass. The only drawback is, there are lots of foxtails around, so dangerous for the dogs. There are vault toilets…..with no doors!!  Maybe that’s how it got it’s name, someone saw William’s Bottom! Hope no one sees mine.     DSCN6035

Moab is a pretty cool town! I was SO glad to see a “regular” grocery store, City Market…part of the Kroger chain. Back to reasonable grocery prices again! There are people on bikes everywhere, this is mountain biker’s heaven. We ate an OMG-good pizza at Pasta Jay’s, had a really good group dinner of grilled pork steaks, home made potato salad and sweet corn, and today was Pancake Day; we had really good cherry cheesecake sourdough pancakes and sausage! They were a big hit.

Deb is declaring a vacation from her vacation…she’s just been vegging out these past 4 days. The rest of us went to Arches N.P.   Sadly, a number of the arches can’t be seen without at least a short hike.

Yesterday we took a day off and today we went to Canyonlands N.P. and Dead Horse Point State Park. The ranger showed us on a map where Thelma & Louise’s car went off the cliff! He said they really did send it over the cliff, and they pulled it back up with cables.

Tomorrow we head south to Valley of the Gods for one night, then on to Canyon de Chelly!

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Musings

Woo, we had hard frost on our car windshields yesterday morning! And a cool day, with highs only in the 50’s.  Last night was really decent though, with a low around 42. At that temperature, we can be fairly comfortable sleeping without any heat. We are having high winds for the next two or three days, but it’s sunny.

My friends have really taken to boondocking! The free aspect is very appealing, of course, and we’ve had our struggles with keeping their camper batteries charged up. We got a tip that the TV antenna booster sucks battery power so we turned those off and that seems to have really helped. Right now I’ve got my old solar panel with the broken glass hooked up to Jeanne’s camper but we have to keep an eye on it since there’s no charge controller, and it also can’t be allowed to get damp or wet or it’ll short out the electronics.

We are all very happy that the weather is cooperating and it’s not going to be super-hot in Moab….so we were able to cancel our expensive ($42 a night) campsite at the RV park. Four nights, that’ll save us $168!!  Yee Haw! We’ll find a nice boondocking site in the national forest, or there are a few NF campgrounds near Moab for under $10 a night. We have also decided not to go to Monument Valley, with it’s $54 a night campsite fees.  Sheesh, all that money just to get electricity……talk about a high power bill!  So now we’ll have a free day between Moab and Canyon de Chelly; we may end up at either Goosenecks State Park or Valley of the Gods. I’m leaning more towards Valley of the Gods because it’s free camping, plus it’s sort of a mini-Monument Valley. If that’s the case, we’ll have spent only $59 for campsites on this whole 5 week period of time! Not as good as my previous record, but still pretty darned good. And we’ve had gorgeous campsites without sacrificing too much comfort!!   I am patting myself on the back for being such a good Scout/Wagon Master.

I hate to admit it but with the high price of groceries lately, we are desperate for a Wal-Mart run! But there aren’t any around here, or anywhere that we’re going until early June when we get to Durango. Yesterday on the park shuttle bus Deb said “Does this bus stop at Wal-Mart?” LOL! Jeanne is going to St. George to pick up her sister Joanne tomorrow though, and has offered to shop for us at the Wal-Mart there! Yayyy!  Joanne will be with us for the next 10 days, then Jeanne & Joanne head to Kansas and Deb & I head to Durango.

I found a great rockhounding place about 20 miles from here. The info said it was an entire hill of agate, and of course we were skeptical. But it really WAS a whole hill of agate; it was terrible!!  What to take, what to leave??!  I brought home probably at least 50# of rocks and now will have to lay them all out and see which ones are the real “keepers”, and toss the rest. (Then pretty soon someone will report this location as a “hill full of agate”!!)  Here’s my best one, it’s a big one, about 5×8″.    Agate

To find the agate hill, from Bryce Canyon City take Hwy. 12 West and turn right onto Hwy. 89. Go about 2 miles & turn right on Casto Canyon Road. (my GPS found the road).From the pavement, go exactly 2.4 miles to hill on left.

 

 

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Bryce Canyon Day 3

We went to the two grocery stores in Bryce Canyon City, Ruby’s and also Foster’s on Hwy. 12. BOY they sure are proud of their groceries….unbelievable prices!  $8 for a box of cereal, $8 for those 1# propane cylinders, $8 for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, $1.99 for a soft drink.  Definitely a good idea to bring everything you need with you to visit the national parks! Trouble is, we’re on our 3rd park in a row and we are running low on some stuff.

Hey have you seen the new Bounty paper towels with Dawn detergent embedded in them? It’s water-activated…great for washing dishes while camping! It’s quite expensive though, I saw a pack of 3 rolls at a “normal” grocery store back in Sedona for around $8.  It wouldn’t be too bad if you could split the pack with a couple friends, it sure looks handy.

There is a big bad black cloud right over our heads, and it’s starting to thunder. Poor Princess Roxie hates that! She is snuggling with me on my bed….she only gets on the bed when she’s really scared.

Deb’s mouse and his wife have gone to a better place. We hope they haven’t left any children behind!

We took the park shuttle today to finish up seeing the points we missed yesterday.  I loved this twisted old tree!  tree

On the way back to camp we saw a pronghorn by the side of the road. With no pronghorns.  He looked pretty scruffy, I think he’s shedding his winter coat.

 

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Bryce Canyon Campsite

DSCN5790

Tee hee, I did it again! Found us a really pretty free campsite in the Dixie National Forest, less than 2 miles from the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park! And only about 1 mile to the little town, with 3G Verizon and 4G ATT signals! Whip Hop!!!  It is .7 mile from the pavement on a little one-lane dirt road but it’s a decent road. It’s not the site I was aiming for; that one was down a pretty muddy road and we opted not to chance getting stuck.

We had a rainy ride here but now it’s sunny and beautiful, though chilly. We’re in for some cold nights, in the low to mid-30’s.  We came through a bit of the same rock formations as inside the park and I was so excited to see the hoodoos! Now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about! This is Jeanne’s favorite park and I think it could be mine too.

Here are some other views from our camp:

And here’s a better photo of that flourite rock I bought, it’s so gorgeous with green and purple, yesterday photograph (or today’s either for that matter) doesn’t do it justice.  DSCN5792

Deb has gone to town for some groceries and a mousetrap. She’s had a little hitchhiker for a while….the other day she dug around in the closet and found her shoes stuffed full of dog food!!!  Mousie Must Go.

Finding This Campsite: Forest Road 090 is just 100 ft north of the ‘Welcome to Bryce Canyon National Park’ sign on Highway 63, about a mile north of the actual entry gates and pay station.  The road will be on the west side of the Highway (and may be unmarked until you get further down the road, there is a cattleguard about 100 yds down this road). You actually turn into the scenic pullout parking lot and the little dirt road goes back into the woods from that. To our site:  About .7 miles straight back on that little dirt road, N37.66698 W112.17327   Elevation 7772′   Another good site closer to the highway: N37.6579⁰  W112.16799⁰