Thursday, December 29, 2011

Getting warmer

I was up at sunrise this morning as was everyone else in the campground it seems. Sometime during the night, two other RV's pulled in. They were Camping World rental units. Two families traveling together with school age children from either Germany or Holland from their language. A small herd of horses came wandering through the campground. Everyone was there with cameras. Smiles are the same the world over.

We were on the road by 8:30, or so. Our choices to get to warm and sunny Yuma were either two four hour driving days, or one long and one short day. As the day wore on, we just kept going. It was still cold and there was snow on the ground until we got about 50 miles south of Flagstaff. Finally the plan became to just get south of Phoenix where it would be warm and call it a day. Tonight we're at Holt's Shell Station, just off I-8 in Gila Bend; about two hours from Yuma. We've stayed here before. There are two camping choices. Use the free dump and water fill then stay in the parking lot behind the convenience store for free or pay $21.43 to stay in their full hookup RV park. We're in the RV park tonight, which is no more then a parking lot with hookups, because for the next month or so, it's going to be boondocking in the desert. We both took long, water-wasting showers tonight. Enjoy it while we can!! There is a nice laundry room here so we're all caught up in that department.

We woke up to this.

And went to bed with this.
The sign says $3.45/gal. for regular gas. We filled up at Pilot in Phoenix for $3.07.

In the morning we get our shopping done in Yuma then head to Mittry Lake for the Escapee New Years Eve party. That will be fun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and getting there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We left Suzanne’s house about 9:00am. The drive from Denver west on I-70 is very pretty. As we passed by the different ski resorts we could see the skiers and the lifts. Everything looks busy. The drive through the Glenwood Canyon was especially nice. Sheer rock walls and the Colorado River. The parking lots by the springs at Glenwood Springs were packed with cars. Business looks to be good.
We arrived at the James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park near Fruita, CO about 3:00; a longer drive then I had anticipated. We’ve stayed here before. It’s just off I-70 so it makes for a very convenient nights stop. We’re the only campers here tonight. The Ranger said just help yourself to any site. He, or his relief, would drive through the campground now and then. $20/night for a full hookup site plus a $7 entry fee. Nice to have electrical hookups on yet another cold night. We finally got to dump the tanks after spending nine days camping in the streets at Suzanne’s house.
It was 17* this morning when Gopher and I went walking.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monument Valley

Today we drove through the state of Utah from Crescent Junction to Mexican Hat . Passed through the magnificent National Parks of Arches and Canyonlands, through the Manti-La Sal National Forest, Moab and Monticello and a dozen or so “towns” that barely existed. This is a most beautiful drive through canyons, up and over mesas, past huge cattle ranches and eventually to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park just south of the UT/AZ border. We need to come back this way when the weather is more conducive to outdoor things.

The Monument Valley Tribal Park is a very special place in the Navajo culture. The visitor center had an extensive collection of artifacts and told the story of the area from before the army expelled the Navajo tribe as part of the Western Expansion to modern times. Very interesting. Carol found two beautiful, well crafted, pairs of handmade Navajo earrings in the gift shop. The nice thing about buying crafts in an “official” store, rather than from a roadside stand, is that everything comes with a certificate of authenticity. Is the certificate authentic?? Who knows. For the price I should hope so.

There is a camping area near the visitor center. It’s simply called the Primitive Campground. Trash cans and pit toilets; nothing else. $10/night. Tonight it’s us, three young couples tent camping and two couples from Germany traveling in their RV. Europeans quite often ship their RV to the US then travel extensively. They really like the “Old West” America; cowboys, Indians and such. Several of the old western movies by John Ford were filmed in Monument Valley. Stagecoach being the most famous.

Our view is magnificent. We’re on an elevated area overlooking the Mittens, named because they resemble a mitten, Mitchell Mesa, Merrick Butte and Elephant Butte.

In the morning we continue south. An Escapee friend told us about a New Years Eve campout a bunch of Escapees are putting on at Mittery Lake which is a BLM area just north of Yuma. That’s where we’re heading next. The woman who is organizing the party sent us an e-mail with directions and said the temperatures are in the low 70’s. Much more to our liking.

This view from our window.

A happy camper

Our campsite overlooking the Mittens

What's keeping that rock from falling?? The formation is called Mexican Hat.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another wonderful Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011 Christmas Eve

We enjoyed a fun day with Izzy and Oliver. Carol and I went to Mass at 3:30 then came home to another great meal by Suzanne and her able assistant, Izzy. After dinner we all enjoyed the family tradition of the “open me first” gift. Everyone gets to open one present on Christmas Eve. The gift is always pajamas of some type. Oliver got a Bat Man set and Izzy’s were snow bunny. All the adults got nice, warm flannel pajamas.

Our iPhone has a feature called FaceTime. It’s a video conferencing program. Jennifer has an iPad II with the same program. We called Jennifer and Alex in Virginia and had a great time talking to all the Virginia grandchildren and playing show-and-tell with the open-me-first gifts. We’ll call them again tomorrow. One of the great FaceTime features is that the call is completely free. Amazing technology.

The weather is improving, in a relative sort of way. Yesterday when I got up, the outside temperature was 7*; this morning it was 14*. I guess if the temperature doubles that represents a huge improvement. When I was walking Gopher, 14* today felt just like 7* yesterday. I didn’t feel twice as warm.

Before Carol and I went out to the camper tonight, Izzy asked if we could get up a little earlier tomorrow since they can’t open presents until we’re there. It seems the coffee pot timer is set for 6:00am and that would be a good time to start opening presents. :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011 Christmas Day

I woke up at about 6:00 and took Gopher for her walk. We were inside, all ready for the opening of presents by 6:45. As always, under the tree was piled with gifts. We called Jennifer and Alex with the FaceTime Apple program. It’s the next best thing to being there.
Suzanne is a vegetarian and Chris and the children mostly so. Instead of the traditional turkey, we had fish which Chris cooked, green beans, a sweet potato/apple casserole, corn pudding and a great cheesecake for desert. Suzanne is a wonderful cook. Among the favorite parts of my visit, was a week without cooking and cleaning up.
Our original plan was to leave in the morning but we decided to stay for another day. Who knows when we’ll be back here again.

Oliver, Carol, Suzanne & Izzy

Monday, December 26, 2011

I spent the day getting the camper ready for our departure tomorrow morning, walking with Gopher and enjoying everyone’s company. Carol, Suzanne and the children went shopping then out to lunch.
After dinner we took lots of pictures of the children. Carol has a collection of her favorites on her iPad. Tomorrow it’s back to work for Chris and Suzanne. We said our goodbye’s tonight. There is talk of a family reunion on Carol’s side of the family next Summer in Connecticut. If so, perhaps we’ll see everyone then.
In the morning we begin the long drive to Quartzsite “Q”,AZ. 983.4 miles per Streets and Trips. The last several days I’ve been looking at the different routes from here to there. One route is all Interstate highways to Las Vegas, NV then south. The other goes from I-70 to Utah then south on Highway 191 through Moab, Blanding, Mexican Hat, Flagstaff, then Phoenix. There is nothing of interest on the Interstate highways and we’ve lots of time so I decided to take the slow and scenic way. Four hours max. driving time per day.