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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!

Sue's house from the dock

Dividing Creek

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).

Julie's favourite occupation - reading bird books... ...and Ron's!

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.

Harvey Too

The intrepid bird watcher/photographer

17th Aug - Payson, Houston Mesa CG

A little further north and up to 7,000ft above sea level. And the temperature is just right.

In the trees at Payson Rufous Hummingbird

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.

Jacks Canyon Relaxing times!

Harvey in the trees. Oh yeah - more relaxing

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.

Meteor Crater A tiny fragment about 60cm long and 1500lb of solid metal.

Partial eclipse Quite a picture window

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.

Sunset at Homolovi The Painted Desert

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.

Ron 'blending' with the Painted Desert Ron's favourite plant!!

Huge piece of petrified wood Fantastic hike through the canyon

Petroglyphs in the Painted Desert More petrified wood

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.

The view from our campsite The Colorado and the Vermillion Cliffs

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.

The North Rim Grand Canyon

Julie looking 'hot' Some idiot looking down 5,000ft

Bison at the entrance to the park The South Rim in the distance

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!

Views over Bryce Canyon Harvey Too at Sunset campground

A small visitor to the campground A larger visitor in the campground

Julie taking in the vista Peek a Boo!

4th/5th Sept - Kodachrome State Park

Another of our favourite sites. Not too far from Bryce yet not that many people find it.

Stunning Hiking views in Kodachrome

Moonrise More stunning views

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.

The lake at Escalante She's the Queen of the castle

Multi coloured petrified wood The recipe

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.

No!! I am not taking a leak Spiders webs - lots of! (and a waterfall)

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.

Mule deer wandering the campground Capitol Reef

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.

Harvey Too in the trees Mancos Lake

Beautiful grey squirrel On our hike around the lake

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.

Sharp curves allow photos of the front Engine created rainbow - blowing steam

Silverton Main Street at 9,813 ft Lunch stop in Silverton

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.

Wrapped up warm Speaks for itself

Harvey Too enjoying the views A river runs through it!!

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!

Beautiful scenery here yet again

Mountain Bluebird

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.

Evening Grosbeak Snow on them thar hills

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.

Ron having a beer with Harvey Too The old railway terminal

The Gunnison River and southern end of canyon American Dipper

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.

Blue Mesa Dam Blue Mesa Reservoir

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.

Sage Thrasher The Continental Divide

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.

Harvey Too on the slope The intrepid photographer

Backdrop to the dunes The actual dunes - highest in the US

More dunes in shadow View across the river into the valley

26th Sept - Lathrop SP

Another means to an end. Nice site but that's about all.

In the trees Mule deer again

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!

Our first State Park in New Mexico The explanation

More explanation The real things

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.

Prize for stating the bleeding obvious Terry the Tarantula

First signs of winter migration - Geese Ground Squirrels

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.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Gorgeous little ground squirrel

A sleepy but beautiful Grey Fox Canyon Towhee

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.

Billy's history in brief Don't panic Mr. Mainwaring!!!

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.

Guess who?

Rufous Hummingbird

Scaled Quail - the lookout... ...and the family

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.

The view from the top Brewer's Sparrow

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.

Rocks and more rocks City of Rocks campground

Greater Roadrunner Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

Woodhouse's Scrub Jay Our picnic lunch spot!

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.

Vermillion Flycatcher Gambel's Quail

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!

Anna's Hummingbird Sora

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.

Black bear Elf Owl - about 6 inch tall

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.

Lots of Saguaro cactii The granddaddy of them all - take your pick!

Arty sunset More arty sunset - through the Ocotillo cactus

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.

What - Harvey Too again! Gorgeous Kit fox eating pizza

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.

29th Oct

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).

 

 

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