Gladlee of Guernsey
America 2017 Page 2 - August - October
9th - 14th Aug - Sue's House
We have taken the opportunity to travel to Baltimore to see our good friend Sue who lives about half way between Baltimore and Annapolis. She has the house that we both absolutely adore. On Dividing Creek which is just off the Magothy river we first came here when we still had Gladlee and put the boat on her dock. Always a stunning place to visit with exceptional hospitality. This time her daughter March was there so got to meet her. Also invited to the neighbours for dinner and drinks one evening. We seem to be getting known in the area!
14th Aug - Fly to Phoenix
From Baltimore to Phoenix with American Airlines and another three hours time difference. That makes 10 hours time difference to Cyprus. We pick up the RV and first thing next morning head to Camping World where it is booked in for a service. And then......it's time for the big adventure (again).
16th Aug - Lake Roosevelt, Windy Hill CG
Our usual first stop - Lake Roosevelt. This time we find out they have increased the price from $8 to $20. No wonder the place is just about empty. Although we have gained a little altitude from Phoenix it is still hot here and for the first time we decide to have a swim in the Lake. Well - a skinny dip actually as there is nobody about.
17th Aug - Payson, Houston Mesa CG
A little further north and up to 7,000ft above sea level. And the temperature is just right.
18th/19th Aug - Jack's Canyon
Further north again to a location we have not been to before. Not sure what to expect but having to open a gate (and close it after) was a start. Unfortunately we could not get all the way to the actual campground as the track was just too rough for Harvey Too. No problem, we just parked on a flat bit of land and hardly saw a soul for the next two days. A hike to the actual canyon showed us that there would have been no way to drive the RV there. 4WD would have been essential. A good walk though.
20th Aug - Meteor Crater RV Park
We are now in Northern Arizona - well almost and have decided on a visit to Meteor Crater. This is the largest "proven" meteor crater in the world. One thing we didn't expect was that we were there on the 21st August which happened to be the day that the US had a solar eclipse. We didn't get the 100% eclipse but about 75%. The place had made a special day of it and were giving out free eclipse glasses, cookies, trail bars etc.
21st/22nd Aug - Homolovi Ruins State Park, Nr. Winslow
Weren't sure about this place. The Homolovi were a tribe of Apache Indians who had settled this location thousands of years ago. Unfortunately the ruins were a bit of a disappointment. A river was visible nearby but we couldn't find a way to get through to it so all in all not the best location we have ever been to.
23rd/24th Aug - O.K. RV Park, Holbrook
We have moved a little bit further east so that we can visit the Petrified Forest National Park which also includes a section of the Painted Desert. The park is in two completely different sections so we do one of them one day and save the southern half for the next.
25th/26th Aug - Lees Ferry CG, Marble Canyon
What a place! This was one of the historic crossing places of the Colorado river and was located at the foot of the vermillion cliffs. The down side was that it was as hot as hell. So what to do - take a swim in the river. Good idea at least but the reality was a little different. One foot in the water and the truth was revealed. The water was freezing. Seriously bone numbing, painful cold water. Oh well, a shower would have to do.
27th Aug - Jacob Lake, Kaibab National Forest
En route to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon we have a stopover at this place. We do manage to find a good long hike here though we had to double back the same way.
28th/29th Aug - De Motte CG, North Rim
The actual North Rim campground was full so this was the nearest alternative. Only about ten miles from the North Rim itself. Plus there was a convenience store so we could top up on essentials.
30th Aug - O.K. Corral, Kanab, Utah
A private site for a change which gives us the opportunity to get laundry done and to go out for a meal in town.
31st Aug - 3rd Sept - Sunset CG, Bryce NP
Our second visit to Bryce Canyon which has to be the most spectacular place in the USA. Some good hikes here but on a difficulty scale of 1 - 10 they come in at a good 9!
4th/5th Sept - Kodachrome State Park
Another of our favourite sites. Not too far from Bryce yet not that many people find it.
6th/7th Sept - Escalante State Park
Completely new location for us. This turns out to be another petrified wood site - once you have climbed a mountain trail to get to the right area. We also found out the "recipe" for petrified wood - see the picture below.
8th/9th Sept Singletree CG - Dixie NF
This was really just a place from the books that we found that was en route. What we didn't expect was the route. This was Utah State Route 12. It started in the canyons twisting and turning before we started to climb. Up to 9,600ft on a ridge road with drop offs of a couple of thousand of feet on both sides - with no guard rails!!! After the climb the whole geography changed and we were in pine forests.
10th Sept - Fruitta CG, Capitol Reef NP
Everywhere we go now is new to us until we return to Arizona. And another National Park crossed off our list. This is a place with a 200 mile escarpment, a river and as the campground name might infer - orchards. In fact the campground was in amongst the orchards and you were allowed to go and pick fruit (apples and pears at this time of year) for a small donation.
11th Sept - Green River SP
Just a convenient place to stop which unfortunately offered no hiking areas whatsoever. The river running parallel to the campground but no tracks alongside it.
12th/13th Sept - Mancos SP
Our first ever visit to Colorado. A very quiet campground with only about three sites taken. Shame really because it is quite beautiful. We managed a quite significant walk around the lake in lovely weather. One surprise here was the Park Ranger who turned out to be Jordanian and quite educated in the local wildlife - though it turned out Julie knew more about the local bird life.
14th/15th Sept - United CG, Durango
This place was a target on our trip. Home to the Durango/Silverton narrow gauge railway. Some years previously we had met and American guy somewhere in Europe who was a driver on the railway here. He had talked about it and we promised we would visit. It was worth it! 40 miles each way it takes the train 4 hours each way and has to stop twice to top up with water. Really quite a climb from Durango to Silverton for these little engines. These were the original engines - approx 1925 - that used to haul the copper and silver from the mines.
16th Sept - Kendall CG, Nr. Silverton
The drive up to Silverton after our stay in Durango took us to our highest point yet at Molas Pass. Though we didn't get any snow ourselves there was definitely some on the nearby peaks and it had got a little chilly. Our campground was a little north of Silverton at about 10,000ft. While here we met some Texans who had just come from the north on the Million Dollar Highway. We received due warning from them about the road we were about to travel on.
17th Sept - Elk Ridges Dakota Terraces CG, Ridgeway SP
Yet another beautiful campground but the adventure was in the getting there. We had to negotiate the Million Dollar Highway. Not too bad in our direction as we were on the mountainside and not the 3,000ft drop off side. A steep road where the edge is crumbling away and there are no safety barriers. 1st gear all the way down for Harvey Too to try and save the brakes. Adjectives desert us!
18th Sept - Pa-Co-Chu-Puk CG, Ridgeway SP
The second of the Ridgeway State Park campgrounds. Though we had only travelled a few miles the place was very different to Elk Ridges. Elk Ridge had been inundated with Bluebirds and yet here there were hardly any. Not a great problem as there were other things as you can see below.
19th/20th Sept - Cimarron Creek CG, Curecanti Rec Area
We have finished the Million Dollar Highway (at Montrose - the Colorado one) and turned right into the Gunnison Canyon areas. Having come down in altitude a little the weather is just perfect.
21st Sept - Lake Fork CG, Curecanti Rec Area
Distance got us to stop here but apart from a walk along the road to the dam (very quiet road) there were no hiking opportunities. In fact the campground was basically a car park - though it did have a great view across the reservoir. Funnily enough we were the only ones camping there.
22nd/23rd Sept - Elk Creek CG, Curecanti Rec Area
Further along Blue Mesa towards the end of the lake. A little busier this place and a proper campground. Very much a boaters campground as there was a boat ramp for all the fishermen.
24th Sept - San Luis Rec Area
We are now heading south but still have a ways to go before hitting New Mexico. Again on a lake but not much else to say really. Almost closed up for the winter.
25th Sept - Great Sand Dunes NP
What a great find. The campground was very busy but we managed to find a site without TOO much of a slope. Even our leveling blocks didn't quite manage to level us off. Great walks here though. The 'river' that runs through here is only inches deep but the whole thing is just magnificent. One other thing here were the thousands and thousands of butterflies. Unfortunately as we were driving some did get squished - unavoidable really. Julie guessed right and they were confirmed as Painted Ladies. It was here we realised it was time to high tail it into New Mexico as it was really starting to get chilly at night.
26th Sept - Lathrop SP
Another means to an end. Nice site but that's about all.
27th Sept - Trinidad Lake SP
When you don't know the place things can go a little bit wrong. We found out that this place had two campgrounds so we headed for the first one. That took us on the single track road across the dam then onto a gravel road (after the rain) and into a totally unsuitable campground. So backtrack across the dam to the - obvious - campground where we should have been.
28th Sept - Clayton Lakes SP
We are in northern New Mexico. A small campground again on a lake. The interesting thing we find about this place is the Dinosaur Trail. Of course we follow it on our hike and lo and behold - we find dinosaur tracks. The other great thing we find here is that all the New Mexico State Parks are very reasonably priced, have power and water and provide showers. We are not used to such luxury!
29th/30th Sept/1st Oct - Ute Lake SP
The next State Park - popular in the summer months apparently but fairly quiet at this time of year. This was the place where we saw our first Tarantula - the first of hundreds as it turned out during our drives across New Mexico.
2nd/3rd Oct - Conchas Lake SP
We actually had no plans to visit this place but sometimes fate intervenes. We had stopped near Ute Lake to do some shopping in the local grocery store but unfortunately Ron accidentally knocked off a small magnet from the fly screen door. Not much you might think but that little thing stopped the RV steps from retracting. Normally automatic when the engine starts but not without its magnet. The problem was we had driven a hundred miles to Santa Rosa before realising it. So - we headed back to the store and yes - managed to find it in the gutter. Another night at Ute Lake followed by which time we had found Conchas Lake and headed there before Santa Rosa.
4th Oct - Santa Rosa Lake SP
Well, we got here eventually after our detour. We did manage to get a good walk in before the heavens opened. And boy did they open. We had an incredible thunderstorm with constant - and we mean constant - sheet lightening. Torrential rain for a good few hours. Luckily we are on high ground. It turned out there was six inches of rain fell during the night. That's a lot of rain!!
5th Oct - Sumner Lake SP
Not much to say about the campground and lake but Sumner Lake town itself turned out to be interesting. It had been where Billy the Kid had been killed and there was a museum dedicated to that time of life in the area. Actually turned out to be really interesting. See the photo below for the history of Billy the Kid.
6th/7th Oct - Trailer Village RV Park, Roswell
How could we come to New Mexico and not visit Roswell. The home of the Aliens. The story is that a spaceship crash landed just outside the town in 1947 in some farmers field. There was subsequently a massive cover up with a story that it was just a weather balloon. Having read the book by Col. Philip Corbin which was done 50 years after the crash it is difficult to just dismiss it. As the saying goes - Believe what you will.
8th Oct - Oliver Lee Memorial SP
More of a stopping off point than anything else though the GPS did make life difficult getting there. We do however manage a fairly nice hike even though it's quite hot again.
9th Oct - Rock Hound SP
This is supposed to be a "Rockhounds" dream location. Rockhounds are those odd people that go searching for crystal formations in the middle of rocks. The problem with this place is that everything within about 10 miles in any direction has already been cleared of anything of worth. Still though the place is busy and we are lucky to get a campsite.
10th/11th/12th Oct - City of Rocks SP
This was a seriously special place. Pretty much in the middle of nowhere are these large rock formations which are rarely seen anywhere. The weather was good to us after a few weeks of rain and there was lots of hiking to be done here. Our toughest being a picnic lunch idea to hike to the top of the nearby "mountain". Not quite a mountain but a serious hike when you are still at altitude.
13th/14th Oct - Roper Lake SP
And so, we are back in Arizona. And we are back to crowded sites. This is one of our favourite places but it was a bit on the busy side this time being a holiday weekend. A couple of nice walks though.
15th/16th Oct - Wells Fargo RV Park, Tombstone
Our favourite cowboy town. Last time we were here we got seriously drunk and it snowed. This time it didn't snow...... Had a great night out and met a few interesting people including the barmaid at Big Nose Kates' Saloon. Julie was definitely not well the second day so Ron did the touristy bit up and down Main St on his own - and managed not to spend any money.
17th/18th/19th Oct - Patagonia Lake SP
This place is Julies favourite bird spotting location. One major issue though was that the place had also had a massive downpour and a considerable amount of the trail we planned to do had been washed away. The Ranger advised that the creek feeding the lake, normally about 6ft wide and 6 inches deep, had actually grown to 200 yards wide and had caused significant damage. The bridge across was washed away as were the trails. Shame but that's nature. Apparently the water level in the lake had risen 3 feet overnight!
20th Oct - Gilbert Ray County Park
This is the nearest campground to the Arizona Desert Museum. We have been here before but it is so good we decided to pay a second stop here.
21st/22nd Oct - Organ Pipe Cactus NP
Our most visited location of all. We have been here half a dozen times and just love the place. The hike to the disused gold mine being our favourite and a picnic lunch makes it even better. The campground is unbelievably quiet. There are probably 250 sites here and during our stay there were only about 4 taken. One thing here is that you are always paying attention during any hikes as the Mexican border is only about 3 miles away and it is a regular place for illegal immigrants to cross in to the US.
23rd/24th Oct - Painted Rock Petroglyph BLM
We seem to have been everywhere in southern Arizona and this is our third visit here. This time though we are visited by a pair of Kit foxes. The picture doesn't really show it but they are only about 9 inches tall. Really cute things and no real fear of us.
25th/26th Oct - Saddle Mountain RV Park, Tonopah
Our last stop before heading back into storage. Again we have been here three or four times before. It's the perfect place to get the laundry and general cleaning up done before going back into storage.
27th Oct - Always RV
Back to our temporary home base. Feeling sad our trip has come to an end but looking forward to getting back to see all our friends in Cyprus.
The start of a long trip. 6 hours to Baltimore, a four hour layover, a seven hour trip to Heathrow, overnight in Wellingborough then, for Ron, back to Heathrow and a flight to Larnaca. Julie is staying in Wellingborough for an extra few days over her Mum's birthday. (Girly time).