Posts Tagged Adventure

Arkansas to California

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After leaving the comforts of our cabin in Arkansas we pointed the RV west. Lingering half the year in the mid-west was nice, but we were ready to get the RV rolling back to the land of eternal sunshine and bug-free living.

We were making the annual trek to Quartzsite for the big show. The difference this year over the last 3 was that we did not work a booth. Instead of a selling event, we were having a consumer insights event with 13 of Dometic’s engineers, product developers, and customer intercepts. It was a nice change roaming the desert talking to folks rather than being stuck in the booth for 9 days.

After Q we followed our Xscapers RV club to American Girl Mine just outside of Yuma. This is one of our favorite camping locations for the beautiful sunsets and endless trail running options. It’s nice being with a group sometimes because we learned of a few new things to explore. One was a local mine shaft that you can hike into quite far. With a pool at the bottom, it makes for an interesting underground destination. We didn’t actually make it to the mine shaft this trip, but look forward to going next time we camp there.

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Xscaper friends enjoying a campfire and full moon

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Imperial Sand Dunes

The other fun destination was the Imperial Sand Dunes just 4 miles from camp. The Dunes are such a striking contrast to the scrub and rugged landscape of AGM. It’s as if we landed in Egypt minus the camels. Mountains of sand smoothed and rippled by the wind as far as the eye can see. It is an ATV lovers dream location for off-road anything in designated areas. And then there are those who ride the dunes on sleds and snowboards for additional excitement.

I highly recommend stopping for this destination at sunset!

We pulled out of AGM to make our way to Southern California. We had a scheduled photo shoot for Dometic and needed to scout locations for video and photography and secure RV’s and boats.

We purposed to stop at Borrego Springs for a few nights on a friend’s RV lot. The last time we were here was 3 years ago during Soup Anarchy watching movies on the side of Technomadia’s bus in the desert!

Gosh, what a fun time that was! This was much more low key and quiet compared to our previous trip and we enjoyed the solitude of our location. We were within running distance of the trails at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground to trail run.

If you ever come to Borrego Springs be sure to check out the desert art!

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Nice to have friends with RV lots

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RICARDO BRECEDA SCULPTURES

We would have loved to stay longer but we really needed to get closer to the coast.

I had been researching RV Parks along the coast since we needed to park for about a month. Jeff and I had some air travel scheduled mixed in with our coastal scouting and we like to leave the rig plugged in while we are away.

I was not prepared for the sticker shock of coastal living. Holy moly! The reasonably priced state parks were not available for a month stay; only offer dry camping or are too small to accommodate our size. While we were at American Girl Mine we met a couple that has a lot at the Escapees Jojoba (Ho-ho-ba) Hills RV Park in Temecula CA.

Since this location was “only” 70 miles from the coast and $40/night for full hookups or $7.50/night dry camping we decided to make it our home for the maximum 28-day limit.

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Enormous campsite

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BLM trails to run

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Fabulous pool overlooking the valley

This is a STUNNING park beautifully maintained by lot owners. It’s your typical 55+ park with tons of activities, a pool overlooking the valley and pickleball courts. Just outside the gates is BLM with plenty of trails for hiking and running.

Temecula is known for its vineyards and old downtown nightlife. We met up with some friends and hit a couple of restaurants during our stay. We really enjoyed this community and Jojoba Hills offers affordable living for those who want to live the SoCal life.

We made several trips to Dana Point, Newport Beach, Balboa Island, and Oceanside. My plan of making quick trips over to the coast was delusional, to say the least. The traffic was insane, turning our 70 miles into 3 hours (6 hours round-trip). It didn’t matter if we left early or returned late the traffic was a consistent gridlock of red taillights.

Despite the painful drives we did see beautiful coastal settings and ate great seafood.

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Balboa Island…Quaint but VERY EXPENSIVE!

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Breakfast outside in February

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Dana Point

One of the side trips we needed to make was the RV Entrepreneur Summit in Austin TX. We went on behalf of Dometic but we also wanted to attend for ourselves. We rented a park model cabin at the Jellystone RV Park and sat in on many seminars. The speakers were outstanding and we made a lot of new friends.

I flew back to LA while Jeff stayed in Austin for another week. One of Jeff’s goals has been to qualify for the Boston Marathon. There happened to be a qualifying race in Houston… The Woodlands Marathon. He has been getting coaching from a friend and was as prepared as I have ever seen him. He had an awesome race and beat the age group qualifying time by 6 minutes. WE HAVE A BOSTON QUALIFIER IN THE HOUSE! However, even though he has a qualifying time it doesn’t mean he will get to run the race.

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Since the number of “qualifiers” exceeds the number of available slots he will now be put in a pool by time. In the fall we will find out if he will actually receive a slot at the starting line in April 2019. (UPDATE: Jeff got a spot and is going to Boston!!!!)

After we were reunited back in Temecula we started to move around for the photo shoot. We hung out for a few days in Newport Beach at the VERY EXPENSIVE ($170/night…gasp) Newport Dunes RV Resort to meet up with the team from Sweden, France and Australia. Then we packed up and caravanned to Lone Pine, California.

 

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The team getting instructions from our favorite Aussie

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Getting the RV’s positioned

 

Lone Pine is where the Whitney Mountain Portal is to the highest peak in the lower 48. After my failed attempt (and Jeff’s success) to the summit a couple years ago that mountain has been looming in the back of my mind. For a brief moment, I considered making the attempt again on this trip since I now have backpacking equipment to break up the hike. But then I realized that it’s still winter on the mountain and I put my aspiration down for a nice cozy nap.

 

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Its still snowing in those hills

 

The photo shoot went amazingly smooth in Lone Pine. This sleepy little town is home to some of the most photographed locations for old Westerns. Of course, the rub in this town is that it runs on small-town time. We needed grocery supplies to keep everyone fed, but the tiny grocery store had limited hours due to “new management”. There was no consistency, rime or reason to their hours and we were forced to drive an hour away just to pick up some supplies for a night shoot.

 

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Sorry to put you through this Lone Pine!

 

Despite the strain we put on local restaurants with 12 of us showing up at once, we ended up with some very successful shots.

After 5 days we headed back to Newport Beach to transition to the marine shots. While the team went out on a yacht, Jeff and I spent the day on land returning the borrowed RV’s and catching our breath. Our final day of shooting was at Dohaney State Beach area at Dana Point using our personal RV.

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The team heading out for a day of shooting

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Jeff and I kicking up our feet to catch our breath

While there, a ranger stopped by our RV and wanted to take a picture of it. He and Jeff got to talking and the ranger offered us a Camp Hosting position at Dohaney State Beach Campground the end of this year. We ended up camping for 3 nights at this park right on the beach and spoke with the current camp hosts for the down and dirty of the job.

After learning that the job only entails checking sites for proper permits and selling firewood for 15-20 hrs a week we decided to commit to hosting for October, November and December. We get a free full hook up site, surfing right from the park and no cleaning of bathrooms!

What’s funny is that I’ve wanted to try workamping but Jeff has been less than enthusiastic about the possibility. What I’ve learned is that he is more than exuberant if you mention surfing. Throw in a great Pacific Coast Trail that runs along the beach just outside your door and you’ve got yourself a winning combination for an “all in”, “why haven’t you suggested this before”, “sign me up on the spot” excitement! I should have thought of that sooner.

Until then we have a lot more travel planned, including a trip back to Arkansas. Stay tuned for another sweltering humidity, bug-filled summer of fun!

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New Level of Crazy

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Welcome to Lodi California

Jeff and I left the magnificent beauty of Yosemite behind to become city dwellers again. After a week of cell & wifi isolation we were ready to get back to some connectivity for work. The temps were rising over 100* so we decided to head to Lodi early to be plugged in before the heat of the day.

We planned a week in Lodi to visit with family and to get caught up on business, so I made reservations at Flag City RV Resort. This is a very nice RV park with nicely spaced, level, concrete sites with a pool and hot tub. We used our Passport America membership for discounts that made our site quite reasonable for the week.

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Lunch with sweet Aunt Shirley at Lodi’s best taco truck, La Picosita!

While we were innocently sitting in the back yard of Jeff’s aunt and uncle we couldn’t help but hear the overhead buzz of a prop plane climbing in elevation. Uncle Don made mention that we were hearing a parachuting plane making its assent. He also mentioned that Lodi has one of the countries most popular sky diving centers and if we ever thought of skydiving, this was the place to do it!

Of course this was all the words Jeff needed to hear to get the Spencer, “gee, that sounds like fun; wouldn’t that be awesome; I am going to drag my wife along to scare the living crap out of her but she will love it” wheels turning.

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Lodi is home to the very first A&W Rootbeer

To be fair, last year when I turned 50 I decided that I needed to do something monumental to celebrate such a big milestone! I’m really not a big risk taker and I consider myself very conservative when it comes to… well, anything!

So when the words, “I want to skydive” came out of my mouth I looked around to see who said it! But it was too late. I said it out loud and sort of committed myself to doing something completely out of character. But if George Bush could skydive when he turned 80, then I had some serious motivation to not be outdone by an elderly former president who has no real bearing on my life!

When Jeff checked into sky diving in Arkansas last year fortunately unfortunately the jump appointments didn’t fit into our schedule and I felt a bit relieved that it just wasn’t going to work out.

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But here we are over a year later, standing in line at The Parachute Center in Lodi California handing them hard earned money for the most terrifying experience thrill of a lifetime!

So this is how this whole experience went down.

The day before we were supposed to move on from Lodi, I woke up from a nap to see Jeff chewing on his fingernails. Fingernail chewing is my husbands tell that he is conjuring up something in that pretty head of his.

Asking what was up he said he wanted to surprise me with something but didn’t know how to spring it on his “give me at least 2 days to process something” wife. Poor fella! So he let me know that if we ever wanted to skydive, now was the time to do it.

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Summer housing at its finest at the Parachute Center

The Parachuting Center draws skydivers from all over the world, most of whom spend their vacations or entire summers living in a tent city right on airport property. They jump from 9AM to 3PM every day of the week, no appointment necessary, just show up, pay your money and jump!

So while I was experiencing a post-nap euphoria I agreed to go skydiving.

We arrived at the Parachuting Center in a big hanger that smelled of parachuting junkies who hadn’t taken a bath in a good week. There were old couches that filled the center of the building with lockers that surrounded the perimeter. Old parachutes, Tibetan and country flags hung from the ceiling and dogs roamed freely.

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Get your stank on at the Parachute Center

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The waiver you sign that says if you die they can come and get your couch!

We were handed a clip board of wavers to sign while watching an old VHS video that had been used so many times that the only thing visible was a faint outline of a long hair/bearded man from 1970-something sharing very important safety tips that I couldn’t hear.

After the informative video we were escorted to the fitting room where they sized us up and put on our harnesses, then introduced us to our jumping buddy. Our brief instruction of assuming the position of a banana was given and we were quickly loaded up into a stripped down airplane.

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Jeff learning to embrace the banana!

The plane climbed to 3,000 feet and a small group of hippies with helmets rolled up the side of the plane and jumped out. My jump buddy informed me that if you jump out at 3,000 feet with your own equipment it only costs $5 a jump. Good to know!

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La, La, La…having so much fun!

Once we reached 13,500 feet the side door of the plane opened up again, more hippies jumped out and all that was left was Jeff and I. We received our last bit of instruction to embrace the banana and remember to breath. And before we could contemplate what we were about to do or if we wanted to change our minds, we were being hurled out the airplane door.

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I didn’t even get a one, two or three!

The initial tumble was disorientating and dizzying and all I could do was close my eyes and wait for the spinning to stop. My ears were instantly feeling pressure and I felt myself unable to breath. But then we finally got into the belly down position and I remembered to assume the tomato… or was it bacon?

The photographer was zooming in and out trying to get me to smile. I’m pretty sure at this point I drooled all over my jump buddy as I forced myself to flash my pearly whites at the camera. The photographer was waved off and we pulled the cord to deploy the chute.

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Holy Crap

After adjusting the biggest wedgie of my life, we floated around making a series of turns to take in some of the vineyard views that consume Lodi. My jump buddy decided it was time to give me instruction on how to land and before I knew it I was lifting my legs and coming in for an amazingly soft butt landing. The jump was over!

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Slide in for a landing. Thank you Jesus!

THAT. WAS. TERRIFYING! WHAT. A. RUSH!

Jeff was walking towards me and I noticed that he was sweating profusely and white as a sheet. He said his jump buddy took him on a series of turns that gave him so much motion sickness that he just about lost his cookies!

On our drive home we just kept looking at one another wondering out loud, “what just happened”? From the time we left the RV, drove to the parachuting center, received instruction, flew to elevation, jumped out of the plane, landed, waited for our disc of pictures/videos and got back in the truck it was a total of 1 hour.

The only thing I remember from the rest of the day was that I had grass in my underwear and I was still panting and my heart was still racing 2 hours later.

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Time of my life or look of terror?

So the lingering questions are…

Q: Are you glad you skydived?

A: Yes!

Q: Do you think you will ever do it again?

A: No!

Q: Are you sure? You didn’t say never!

A: I’ll answer that definitively when I turn 80!

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We followed this home!

 

 

 

 

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Yosemite National Park-Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jeff and I were so excited to snag Half Dome permits. We packed our lightweight running backpacks in preparation for a very long day of hiking. Water reservoirs full, extra water bottles, salty snacks, turkey burgers, string cheese, almonds. We arranged for Sam to be checked on and walked by a neighboring camper back at the RV park.

We are hiking Half Dome Baby!

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Jeff and I purposed to leave the Happy Isles trailhead at 6AM and found a place to park near the backpacker’s campground. We took the Mist Trail up past Vernal and Nevada Falls. This trail was like an adult water park and we were drenched by the time we made it through the falls. The Mist Trail is a stair step climb with minimal handrails. The granite stairs are a bit slick from being wet and we were thankful to have our hiking poles.

The top of the Nevada falls is a popular turn around for a lot of hikers. You can either head back down the mist trail or join the John Muir trail and loop back down another route. There are pit toilets here as well and there was quite a congregation of folks hanging out here before turning back.

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Hiking past Vernal Falls

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The Mist Trail approaching Nevada Falls

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Nevada Falls

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One small section of handrails climbing to the top of Nevada Falls

We kept hiking past the Little Yosemite Valley campground (backpackers only) and another 3 miles further up the trail to Sub-Dome.

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I started getting nervous here!

Sub-Dome is where things start to get interesting! Permits are required beyond this point. But at 9:30am there were no rangers there, making us wonder why we stood in line the previous day for 5 hours to get a permit. (They were actually there on our way down)

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Narrow stairs chiseled out of solid granite, switchbacks and a steep slope was an exercise in vertigo control. I wish I could say what the view was like at this point but I was too focused on where to put me feet without looking down!

We reached to bottom of the cables about 10:30AM and unpacked our rubberized gloves for the final push. The gloves are amazingly helpful for gripping the cables. This section was EXTREMELY STEEP…almost repelling-like, and the gloves helped give extra grip to be more secure.

There was a pile of used gloves at the bottom of the cables that hikers leave for others to use.  The wind tends to carry some off so there were a lot of unmatched gloves laying around.

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Gloves graciously left by previous hikers…they are a must for the cables!

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See those ants over my right shoulder? Yup…that’s where we are going!

Previously, we heard one of the rangers talking about the permit system for Half Dome. That if you couldn’t get a permit, you hate the system. But if you were lucky enough to get a permit, you LOVE the system. Jeff and I couldn’t have agreed more!

The climb up the cables was intense and I can understand why they put permits in place. After the permit system was instituted, half dome deaths dramatically decreased.

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Thankful for the 2X4’s to rest

Each turnbuckle had a 2X4 attached to it to provide stable footing to rest or wait for passing hikers. Even with the limited people allowed on this hike we still got caught in traffic on the cables. But what was really cool was that everyone worked together encouraging one another, communicating, holding on giving each other the right of way. It was neat to see and experience, especially since it was so dangerous.

Just when I thought I couldn’t go any further we reached the top with a loud cheer from a few of the hikers on top. The last 500’ took us about 30 minutes and we celebrated by having a snack overlooking Yosemite Valley.

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Thats Jeff and I at the top!

It’s moments like these that I become especially thankful for the ability to hike and climb. To have a body that is healthy and strong. To have a wrist that just 6 months ago was shattered and now I was pulling myself up the cables of Half Dome! We scored a permit to the top and now we are seeing a view not too many people can or will see.

The view on top was so big and grand. Lush green meadows, sparking water of the Merced River, waterfalls spilling over granite cliffs, crisp air, the shear drop off of El Capitan. It was all visible, even palatable from this one spot. What an experience!

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The view heading back down Half Dome

Our climb back down the cables was looming so after an hour at the top we started back down. It’s comical to see the different strategies people use to go down. Face first, side-ways and backwards. I chose the backwards method which worked well. I felt very secure and it kept the vertigo in check. It was much easier getting down and we celebrated with our fellow hikers.

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Glad to make it down safely!

Overall this was an 18-mile hike for us that took 11 hours to accomplish. Talk about pooped!

The next day we needed to recover, so we pre-planned taking the Valley Floor tour ($25 each). This is a two-hour open-air tram tour driven by Sam and narrated by ranger Carol. They were affectionately dubbed Yosemite Sam and Christmas Carol!

Jeff and I normally don’t take tours, preferring to avoid tourist attractions. But we REALLY enjoyed this and would highly recommend it. We learned so much more about how the valley was formed, how Muir and Roosevelt worked together to start the National Parks, how bears are controlled in the park, and climbers on El Capitan.

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Christmas Carol narrating our Valley Floor tour

My favorite story was when Christmas Carol shared about the flood of 1997. The rapidly rising water took out over 1,000 lodging sites in the form of campgrounds and lodges. Everyone was safely evacuated and not a single life was lost. Carol shared that the most special part of the flood was that the park was closed for 3 months for cleanup and only workers were allowed in. She said that without the crowds the wildlife came out of the woodwork with such peace and quiet. It gave me goose bumps to think about experiencing Yosemite in such a special way. I was envious of her job!

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High water mark of the flood of 1997

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Taking in the views on our tour

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Yosemite Falls and a giant finger…oops!

After our tour we took a stroll over to Yosemite Falls and then called it a day.

Thursday was our last day at Yosemite and we had two things left that we wanted to do. One was to drive to Glacier Point and the second was to hike the Four Mile hike. So much to still see and so little time!

The Four Mile hike (3200’ elevation gain) once was a toll trail developed in 1872 to connect the Valley Floor to The Mountain House lodge at Glacier Point. It is a strenuous hike that was eventually lengthened to 4.8 miles in order to flatten out some areas of steep grade. Even though mileage was added the historic Four Mile trail name was retained. The lodge burned down and the state of California eventually purchased the “private” trail for $2,500. It then became public property and toll free.

My legs were too shot for the 3200’ climb so we decided to drive to Glacier Point where Jeff would drop me off at the McGurk Meadow Trailhead on the way. This is an 8-mile one-way hike from TH to the Glacier Point. Jeff then parked at Glacier Point and hiked the 4-mile trail down, then back up.

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Pretty river crossing on the McGurk Trail

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Jeff taking the Four Mile Trail

Both hikes were beautiful. Mine was secluded with minimal traffic while Jeff’s was exposed on the side of the cliff with A LOT of people. We both ended our hikes about the same time and we had a great view of Half Dome!

We left Yosemite for the final time that day. We were both really sad. We could have easily spent a second week and still not have gotten in all the additional hikes we wanted to do.

I guess that just means we will have to make another trip back!

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Until next time beautiful!

P.S.

TEN TIPS FOR A YOSEMITE VISIT

  1. Come in the off-season if at all possible-shoulder months are less crowded.
  2. Avoid the Valley Floor during the weekends-there are great hikes around the perimeter of the park that are much less crowded.
  3. Arrive at the Park entrance gates before 8:30AM-Cars start backing up at the entrance by then and parking is limited. We heard of others waiting 4 hours in traffic just to get in the park entrance and other who circled parking lots for 2 hours trying to find an open spot.
  4. Take lawn chairs with you-we set up our chairs under a shade tree in the parking lot to get some work done and make business/family calls. Also, its just nice to sit, regroup and rest then get back out there for the rest of the day.
  1. Expect no connectivity-We had very poor cell coverage and no WiFi at our RV Park, even with our own hotspot and booster. We did find decent coverage in the parking lot in the Valley so we purposed to get some work done there each day after our hikes.
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Our office with Yosemite Falls in the background

  1. Make arrangements for pets-Pets are not allowed on hiking trails but can be taken on any paved paths. There are lots of paved routes, but none that will give you any backcountry experience.
  2. Bring bikes-If you just want to explore the Valley Floor be sure to take bikes. Waterfall spots and lakes are spaced out making it a very long walk. Bikes will keep you from having to give up your coveted parking spot.
  3. Take the Valley Floor tour-Well worth the $25/person (reservations required).
  4. Be mentally prepared for irresponsible people who lack manners, don’t pick up after themselves and who ignore park rules-Its very disappointing to see the amount of trash left on the floors in restrooms and around crowded waterfalls.
  5. Take plenty of sunscreen and water-Even if it is a short distance, the air is dry and the sun is intense.

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Ramping Up and Winding Down

Zion National Park

Angels Landing, Zion National Park

Ooooof! More excuses why I have been very tardy in keeping up with my blog!

Working with an RV company, the full-on RV season has arrived and our show responsibilities have ramped up.

So instead of trying to catch up with multiple posts I’m going to cheat and summarize the last two months of travel in one. That’s the way we catch up around here!

Zion National Park…A Thing of Beauty

Continuing our visit to the Canyonlands we headed over to Zion National Park. I thought since we were visiting during the early season we wouldn’t have any trouble finding camping around the National Park. After checking the recreation.gov website for camping within the park I found 1 campsite left for 3 nights at the Watchman Campground. Not the week stay I was hoping for but we had to take what we could get.

With our Zion Ultra trail run scheduled we needed some additional reservations closer to the venue. I got reservations at the Zion Canyon Campground behind the Quality Inn Hotel in Springdale. It was literally just across the Virgin River from the Watchman…for double the price.

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Tight quarters but great views at Zion Canyon Campground

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The picturesque Watchman Campground

Our first day at Zion we decided to take a drive through the park traveling through the tunnel on 89A. I’m so glad we did this because we had planned on going out this way on our way out of town. We didn’t realize there was a tunnel for one thing. Secondly, they have a height restriction of 13’2″. Thirdly, if we could have fit (we are 13’ 8”) we would have needed a park escort in order to drive down the middle of the tunnel while traffic was blocked. Lastly, they charge a $15 fee to do so.

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Not enough headroom for us tall folks

Despite all that, it was a beautiful drive and gave us a little taste of what was to come during our weeks stay.

Two days before our race we decided to take in an easy hike and headed to the Emerald Pools. There is a high, medium and low pool and we hiked to all three. This is an easy hike and we purposed to leave before 8 AM to avoid any crowds. This time of year you can only access the Trailheads via the shuttle system that we picked up at the visitors center.

There are flashing signs all over town about the National Park parking being completely full by 10AM until 3PM, so we wanted to be sure to get an early start. We waited for the shuttle with 4 other people to head to the TH’s. But when we returned around 10:30 the lines just to get on a shuttle were about a ¼ mile long. It was crazy!

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Boy oh boy…go really early or prepare to wait!

Angels Landing

If you have ever seen pictures of Zion you more than likely have seen Angels Landing. This hike’s iconic knife edge assent with the aid of chains and the infamous Walter’s Wiggles were enough to make this one of our most unique and exciting hikes we have ever done.

And the view from the top… Simply amazing! It’s a great place to have a mid morning snack or a picnic lunch with plenty of room to move around (mild crowds). But if you are scared of heights this hike is not for you!

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WARNING…You are crazy doing this hike!

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Be sure to do this hike early morning before the crowds kick in. The chain section is for one rear end at a time and even early we had to share the road with A LOT of people including small children and terrified adults. There aren’t too many spots to just pull over and let someone pass, so expect to hang out on the side of a cliff waiting for your turn.

Zion 100 Ultra

The Zion 100 Ultra offered a 100-mile, 100k, 50 mile, 55k and half marathon distance. Jeff signed up for the 55K while I signed up for the half marathon.

We were watching the weather closely the week leading up to the race and as the race got closer the chance of rain increased. So much so that the race director offered the option to back out of the race even though they were going to have it rain or shine.

But nothing could prepare us for…mudageddon!

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5lbs extra weight right there!

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Super slop…just no way around it!

It started to rain about 1AM and rained off and on through the entire race. The rain made the trails a soupy sloppy mess and the course had to be altered at the last minute. I finished my half while Jeff pulled out at mile 22 of his 55k. The mud was relentless and we were both exhausted!

We took a rest day and walked to town for lunch the day after our race. Sam was glad to get outside.Though we love our National Parks we hate that you cannot take your dog with you on the trails. We understand the safety concerns and the trails are really too crowded for both people and dogs. Zion does offer one paved walking trail that pets are allowed on and we were thankful for it.

We really wanted to hike The Narrows which is water/river hiking. But spring runoff had the river running too high and wild to do this trip. We hope to come back in the fall for this one.

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The Narrows…not assessable this trip

The little town of Springdale is within walking distance of the Zion campgrounds and a delightful place to grab lunch, ice-cream or coffee. It’s quaint and friendly, but I can only imagine what it would be like to get around in the height of summer tourism. Springdale is bracing itself for the estimated 5 million visitors expected to Zion this year, so if you are planning a trip pack your patience.

Lee’s Ferry, AZ

After leaving Zion we stopped over at Lee’s Ferry campground in Utah. What a gem of a find!

Lee’s Ferry is the only place for hundreds of miles where you have easy access to cross the Colorado River. Back in the mid 19th century it was the site of Lees ferry that provided a way to cross the Colorado River for those making their trek out west.

The water is smooth and calm here and is where all Grand Canyon rafting trips start their journey.

Lees Ferry AZ

Grand Canyon float trips getting ready for 18-21 day trips. Look at those skies!

The little first come first serve campground is situated on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. As with all the Canyonlands, the full beauty of Glen Canyon is revealed in the sunrise and sunsets and boy did it put on a show!

The rock formations glowed with the dawn and dusk sun so be sure to set up your chairs and take in the view!

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The beautiful Colorado River at Lees Ferry

Phoenix, KY, IL, MO, AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, NV

 Yup…in a matter of 9 days we crossed 9 states and 3 time zones. We flew to Louisville to pick up the Dometic show RV and drove it to National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.

This kicked off 5 weeks of non-stop driving and we are almost finished with our show responsibilities for this round. It has been a whirlwind for sure but next week we will be taking a weeks vacation in the majestic Yosemite National Park.

Stay tuned!

Zion National Park

Zion 100…you kicked our butts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello Moab

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After a 3-week visit back to Nashville and Bentonville Arkansas…or as I call it, the land of humidity, we flew back to our RV in Mesa.

We had lunch with our RV buddies John & Becky and Don & Debbie at Liberty Market in Gilbert. There was so much to talk and laugh about and so little time before we all headed off into different directions. We are going to miss these guys but are confident we will see them out on the road!

Mesa

One last ice cream with friends

We pulled out of Mesa for the last time Thursday, March 10 and started our northern trek to Moab. We would have taken our time for the 488-mile journey but Jeff and I signed up for the Canyonlands Half Marathon & 5Mile run on the 12th.

Our plan was to stop half way, but I find that after we have been in one place for a while, we don’t mind putting in some miles on our first day back on the road. We drove 428 miles (9.5 hours) and got within an hours drive of Moab, stopping in a truckers lot in small town Utah for a free overnight.

Neither Jeff nor I have ever been to Moab and when we pulled into town I felt…disappointed. I guess I had pictured a quaint little mountain town like Breckenridge or Tahoe. But my first impression was…junky.

I hate to say that out loud especially now that we have stayed for two weeks. After experiencing all that the great outdoors Moab has to offer, I’m a fan…sort of.

We were in Moab during the Easter Jeep Safari, when 5,000 jeeps roll into town for this annual event.   Jeff and I worked the Dometic booth at the expo showcasing their mobile cooling products. The patrons were fun and everyone remain completely clothed!

Moab

Jeeps rounding up for an adventure

We camped at the Sand Flats Recreation Area, home of the famous Slick Rock off road trail system. This is a mecca for off-roading anything. Jeeps, ATV’s, dirt bikes and mountain bikes and they flow constantly through this campground…all hours of the day and night.

It wasn’t our customary dispersed camping. That, leave your shades up, silent paradise that we strive for. But more of the dusty, loud, drive as fast as you can in a 25 mph speed zone, don’t care how loud my radio is at 1AM and the rules don’t apply to me type of camping.

But despite the noise, here are the highlights for Moab.

Moab Half Marathon (Jeff) & 5 Mile run (Deb) and Monument Valley Half Marathon

This race takes place on the very scenic HWY 128 that runs along the Colorado River. The city shuts down Hwy 128 where 2300 entrants were shuttled by bus from downtown Moab to the start of the race. We had the entire highway to consume while running through the canyons.

I’m not sure but it felt like the race was all downhill…my kind of race for sure! Either that or I was just taken in by the surroundings. Colorado River flowing on my right, shear red cliffs everywhere I looked, Native American drummers out on the course and lots of local support.

Also, Jeff decided to enter the Monument Valley Ultra Half Marathon the following weekend…It was spectacular!!!

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Hiking Slick Rock Loop

Slick Rock was just out our RV door, so we laced up our shoes and got after it. This is a 9.5 Mile loop over petrified sand dunes that make Slick Rock what it is.

Contrary to the name, Slick Rock is not actually slick, but very sticky. That’s what makes it the mountain bike & 4×4 mecca that it is. The texture of the rock makes these trails very tacky which is great for rubber to hold on too. It’s a good thing because this trail has some vertical climbs that defy gravity.

Moab

Slick Rock Trail overlooking the Colorado River

Moab

Share the road

The mounds of petrified dunes are endless and all look the same. So I was thankful for the very well marked trails by white stripes painted along the surfaces.

We had to share the trail with mountain bikes and dirt bikes, which isn’t really my preferred nature experience.

We found that the best time to hike/run Slick Rock was before 8AM. By the time we finished up the parking lot and trails became full with people there to enjoy their adventure too.

The Arches National Park

Jeff and I also headed to The Arches National Park. We toured the visitor’s center and watched a very good movie on how arches are formed, then headed to the Delicate Arch trailhead.

The Arches National Park

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch is probably the most photographed arch in the park and requires a strenuous 1.5 mile one way hike to get to. We arrived about noon and the parking lot and trail was crowded. The majority of the trail was wide-open space so there was plenty of area for the crowd to spread out. That is until you get to the last ¼ mile where it is a somewhat narrow trail on the side of a bluff.

Once we rounded the final corner we caught view of this amazing arch that has a natural amphitheater built into its surroundings. You can sit and ponder life or visit with others from all over the world. It really was a beautiful sight to see!

While Jeff went off jeeping one day I drove back to The Arches and hiked Devils Garden loop. It’s a 7.5 mile hike that gives you an opportunity to take in 7-8 arches.

Let me tell you…this trail did not disappoint!

It is probably my #2 most beautiful trails that I have ever hiked (#1 Grand Canyon).

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Balanced Rock

The Arches National Park

Hiking along the fins

The Arches National Park

Partition Arch framing beautiful scenery

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Landscape Arch

The rocks in this area form as fins that the trail traverses up, over and in between. Each turn around a corner showcased another view better than the last. At one point I just had to stop taking pictures and keep moving.

And the arches…most framed views just like a pretty portrait. WOW!

We made one last trip to The Arches on Easter Sunday morning for a sunrise service then to the Eklectic Cafe for a birthday breakfast (yea me).

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Easter Sunrise Service…glad we didn’t sleep in!

Jeeping Steel Bender

We met a very sweet couple, Jeff and Jennifer, in our camping section, who have been coming to the Jeep Safari for 20 years. Jeff asked my Jeff if he would like to ride along on a group 4×4 ride. How can you say no to something like that!

Jeeping is nothing either of us have experienced. The trails are steep and rugged and with a a name like, “Steel Bender”… they are not for the faint of heart. You creep along with 10-12 other jeeps, each driver challenging themselves to take the hardest route. Things fall off and jeeps break down all from the strain of being tested.

After 8 hours Jeff learned a lot about the jeeping community. If he ever trades in his bicycle a jeep may be a consideration.

Moab Overall

I think my ultimate struggle with Moab was just the shear natural beauty of the area that makes up the Canyonlands while having a feeling of destruction and wear.

It was both beautiful and sad at the same time.

The nice thing about RV’ing is we can move on from here and have a totally different type of experience just waiting around the corner!

Until next time Moab (maybe)….

Moab

I wonder what is over there…hummm!

 

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The Naked Truth About “Q”

Quartzsite 2016

All hooked up and heading to Q

It’s been a while since my last post. Partly because of healing my wrist, partly because we have been stationary.

As new temporary residents of Mesa, Arizona we’ve become quite familiar with city streets, favorite Walmart stores, the local cycling club and yummy places for lunch. Even Sam has been in on the action for grooming and walking the canals.

But these RV’s are made for roll’in and roll’in is what we do!

After 3 months, we had to refresh ourselves on how to hook up the Domani. It felt odd to be pulling out of our temporary driveway with something a little bigger than a bicycle behind us.

But just like riding a bike, it all came back to us quickly. We were finally headed away from sirens, helicopters and thumping music of the city and heading towards yipping coyotes, running generators and whipping winds of the desert.

Here we come Quartzsite!

Quartzsite 2016

Sunrise over the Big Tent

The Quartzsite RV Show, or “Q”, is billed as the largest gathering of RV’ers in the world. Folks from all over North America come to the desert of “Q” for warm January temps and cheap RV living. “Q” is surrounded by unlimited BLM, making this quirky destination a playground for boondockers, solar enthusiasts and ATV’ers.

We were here last year working a booth for Dometic and we were here to do the same this year.

Working a booth at a RV show is a fascinating study in people. Especially RV’ers!

“Q” is always a different kind of show in that the majority (98-99%) of this audience is actual RV owners. And not just owners but what I would consider RV super users… those who live in their RV’s 6-12 months out of the year.

And with super users comes lots of experience and lots of stories! Usually experiences and stories that center around bathroom habits and holding tanks.

Quartzsite 2016

Gotta have a sense of humor if your going to RV

I had to laugh when a 70-something woman asked if we had any toilet seats that fit into a receiver hitch of a truck because, “I aint poop’in over a log no more”. I deferred her to Amazon…they have everything in two days or less for Prime membership.

One of our friends shared his story about emptying his black tank at a dump station. Unbeknownst to him, the dump was full which he didn’t find out until he saw his black water running all over the ground. After shutting off the valve he was left with suspending both ends of the hose in the air with his hands in order to contain the sludge until someone would let him dump in another line! OMG!!!

Other toilet discussions at the booth drove me to drink at the end of the day. And since I’m such a light weight, half way through a glass was sufficiently enough to regain my sense of humor.

On another funny note…did you know that Escapees has a nudist club? They sure do! And Jeff and I got a first hand look at it while delivering a Dometic portable refrigerator/freezer to their encampment…on BLM…in “Q”.     Y.U.P.

Quartzsite 2016

UUUUUMMMMM!

I offered to deliver the item as the purchaser was on a motorcycle and he happily accepted my offer. While being rung up he slipped in a, “oh-by-the-way”, and we were off to the nudist encampment hoping the cool temps and cloud cover would keep the in-the-buff RV’ers a bit more covered!

Of course the ONLY person that was not covered up when we got to the area was this nice gentleman’s wife…buck naked…in front of his coach.

Not being well prepared nor experienced in this sort interaction, eye contact was our top priority as well as a keen concentration to keep our jaws from hitting the desert floor. I was relieved when his wife offered to put some clothes on. But that relief was short lived when she returned with only a wrap around her waist.

Quartzsite 2016

Oh look! An American flag on top of Q Mountain!

Introductions were made and a tutorial on how to operate their new purchase was given…topless…boobs a sway’in in the gentle breeze…bent over the freezer on the ground. There are just things you can’t un-see folks!

After declining their invitation for a beer we were treated to a boob photo bomb while having our picture taken with their rig logo. Yup…in her full glory…in the background of a picture her husband took with OUR phone.

Oh…could it possibly be that I now have seen it all? Probably not.

Quartzsite 2016

Oh look! Sam at sunrise on Q Mountain!

Jeff and I have had one other run in with nudists. It was on our honeymoon 22 years ago in Jamaica. The resort had a clothing side and a clothing optional side. When we arrive the first night we were informed that our room on the clothing side was not available despite our specific reservations.

The next morning our beautiful ocean front balcony view was marred by the bare butts of wrinkly old men strategically moving their lawn chairs directly in front of our room. Not the full moon over the water view I had in mind!

From my total of two nudist “shock-and-awe” incidents, I’ve noticed that nudists are not usually the bouncing six pack stacked Bay Watch type of people to be gazed upon with appreciation for the human form. But leathery sun worn bodies that have sufficiently been pruned over time. Just my humble unwanted observation!

Butt But you know what? More power to them!

It was an interesting time at “Q” as it usually is. We did see friends and managed to stay an additional week in beautiful desert BLM solitude after the show.

Quartzsite 2016

Nice hike in the desert with friend Donna

We had dinners, campfires and even watched football with John and Becky, my hiking buddy Marshall, Jeff’s new cycling buddy Don and his wife Debbie and Flying The Koop’s Mike and Donna.

The incredible desert sunrises and sunsets burned new images into my retina’s that I will carry with me as we head back to Mesa. Even the illumination of the full moon will forever be a memory too! 😉

Quartzsite 2016

Don’t Worry Pee Happy!

 

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Epic Hiking and Majestic Views All At the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

I made reservations at Trailer Village at the Grand Canyon a couple of months ago so we pressed on after 3 nights in Flagstaff.

This is the third time Jeff and I have been to the Grand Canyon. Our first trip was after a sales conference in Scottsdale about 7-8 years ago. It was December and we only had a few hours to explore. So we hit the South Rim and the restaurant in the Village at Bright Angel Lodge.

Our table was overlooking the rim with spectacular views. Our brief time was enough to create a longing to come back to spend more time at one of the Wonders of the World.

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Jeff catching his shadow during sunrise hiking the Canyon

And that’s exactly what we did last year (2014). A group of us from Arkansas trained for about a year in order to do the Rim2Rim (And Rim2Rim2Rim), crossing the Canyon from South Rim to North Rim via the Bright Angel trail and the North Kaibab trail. You can read all about the experience here.

After completing such a hike we were left with wanting more. So here we are. At the Grand Canyon. Planning another epic hike into the bowels of the canyon.

This time we wanted to start and finish on the South Rim so we chose to go down the South Kaibab trail to the Colorado River and up Bright Angel…for me (Rim2River2Rim). Jeff on the other hand wanted to do a double, so he started at Bright Angel down to the river then up South Kaibab. Then, turn around and head back. (Rim2River2Rim2River2Rim)

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Rain and rainbows delaying our hike

The plan was for Jeff to leave at 1am and get to the South Kaibab TH by the time I was starting my hike at 6am.

We arrived at the GC on Thursday hoping to do our hike on Saturday. But thunderstorms were predicted and the hike was called off for the day. Then Sunday…Monday…Tuesday…Wednesday. We had rain, rain and more rain, hail and wind gusts until the weather finally broke the day before we were to leave.

There is a lot of preparation that goes into a 10-15 hour hike, especially when the canyon had some of its water sites shut off

due to repairs. Water, nutrition, extra socks, moleskins, headlamps, electrolytes filled our slim running packs.

Grand Canyon

Stuffing our running packs full of supplies

We had prepared as best we could and the hike was finally on!

Jeff left at 1am sharing that at some points in the hike he stopped on the trail, turned his headlamp off and just took in the stillness, the quietness, the moon and stars in the canyon. Not another soul around. Totally unplugged. Just him and the trail.

I met Jeff about 7:30am halfway down the South Kaibab. What a refreshing face to see! We got to share our experiences up to that point and enjoy a snack before heading our separate ways…him going up…me going down.

The day before the hike I wasn’t feeling up to doing the 18 miles of Rim2River2Rim. So my plan was to hit the Tonto Trail off the South Kaibab which heads west to the Bright Angel trail…cutting off 1000’ elevation drop/gain and 5 miles. But I took my first 10 steps on SK and I new I had to make the full journey down.

I am so glad I chose the longer route. The dramatic cliff views made green and lush from the week of rain. Trickles of water were flowing out of the rocks. Such a fresh smell in the air. It’s all too grand, broad, high, and vast to take in. I couldn’t open my eyes wide enough!

While hiking down I heard a clop, clop, clop sound up in the hills above me only to see my first mule train carrying supplies down to Phantom Ranch. The mules are bred for their solid disposition and sure footing to take packs and people below the rim. Though they had moved out of sight, I could still hear the clopping down below as they continued on.

The SK trail is narrower than BA trail and a little more worse for ware. The mules have worn a steady path into the trail, sometimes 12” deep. And with the recent rains had created a couple miles of deep puddles and sticky mud to navigate.

After 4 hours I made it to Phantom Ranch, 4600’ below the South Rim, to rest, eat and fill up my water bottles. An hour later Jeff had made it back down and joined me there.

I stayed long enough to dip my feet into the Bright Angel Creek before starting the steady climb back up and up and up.

The BA trail is the least steep of trails out of the canyon. From last year I knew that I was in for a hike at the Devils Switchbacks. I was dreading them from the moment I left Phantom Ranch. I remembered them to be numerous, steep and grand. But Jeff and I arrived at Indian Gardens to realize that we had already hiked them. My mind had made them dramatically different than it actually was…to my great relief!

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Monumental swithbacks on the SK trail

Things look incredibly different when you hike the trails from a different direction. Last year I hiked down the BA trail. This year I was hiking it up and I couldn’t remember most of the trail. Everything looked new. Like I had never hiked this trail before. It was a completely different perspective!

Grand Canyon

Views of the Colorado River

For 4.5 hours we hiked switchbacks with heavy legs and heaving chests as we climbed to higher elevations until we finally crested the top. The glorious, level, finally stop moving, TOP!

The Grand Canyon is one tough hike. But I think the majestic views; the grandness of it all feeds the senses to a point of a natural high that carries you along the trail, one foot in front of the other.

I’m not going to lie…my legs and chest hurt for days. But my memories of this epic hike will last me a lifetime, which should more than cover my momentary pain.

Grand Canyon. I WILL be back!

Grand Canyon

We did it!

PS…We were once again camping with our friends John and Becky and also Paul and Nina of WheelingIt. We had fun with Happy Hour and a grilled pizza night…in the rain…which will make for good story telling in the future.

While we were hiking Paul and Nina were gracious enough to keep Sam for us. It was hysterical to see Sam and Polly together. They were like two long lost pals who where on their first date. I’ve never seen two dogs kiss each other. No, really. They were actually kissing each other. Polly giving Sam sideway glances. Sam sitting as close as he possible could to Polly. It was all so amusing!

Sam had a great time with the WheelingIt crew. I hope we can return the favor sometime soon!

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Boondocking and Booties, Lake Havasu City, AZ

After a brief two night stop over in Quartzite, AZ we moved on to Lake Havasu City. Not sure how we landed on going there but think it had something to do with water. It usually does.

Lake Havasu City is an interesting town and has been featured in the “Best Places to Retire” lists in Money Magazine, Portfolio.com. It is a mecca for ATV hobbyists, northerners who come here to stay warm for the winter and Californians to utilize the beautiful lake in the summer.

LHC boasts 300 days of sunshine and less than 3″ of rain a year. Summers are extremely hot averaging over 100 degrees.

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There is many opportunities to boondock close to town. So we stayed at Craggy Wash just north of the airport.There is a camp host who issued a free 14 day pass. The entrance was quite crowded with many RV’s…some that appeared to have overstayed the 14 day limit. But as we traveled further in, the RV’s thin out and we had plenty of private options to choose from.

There are many hiking opportunities here and we were able to see some wild burros and big horn sheep. Sam got a little more up close and personal. We were walking the wash when we heard him way off in the distance. Finally seeing movement up on a mountain about a 1/2 mile away, big horn sheep were scattering on the hillside as a little white fur ball gave chase.

Crazy dog! He sliced up his feet pretty good and he walked around tender footed for a week. This put a damper on our other hiking plans since he goes with us everywhere. So we stopped in at Petsmart and bought a set of doggie booties for his tender toes. It was hysterical to watch Sam walk around the store for the first time with his new shoes. But once we arrived at Dead Burro to hike this 5 miler, Sam was in happy mode.

After about 3 miles, however, he had run so much the shoes started falling apart. We returned them on the way back home. We were happy with the fit and how well they stayed on his feet, but the quality of construction had some obvious issues

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Shredded Booties

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Sam's new shoes

Sam’s new shoes

 

Dead Burrow was a great hike…once we found the trail. There are no real trail markers around these parts so we were left with other hikers directions to find the trail.

Description for this hike went something like this. “Drive the wash until you pass the hills on the left, then take a jeep road to the right and go to the right on the hill to the left. Back track to the other side of the mountain and take the small wash around a curve that will take you to a mesa. Cross the fence on foot and look for a poorly defined trail. Follow this trail to another wash that will traverse the right side of the canyon”.

If that wasn’t confusing enough there were unlimited hills, washes, jeep roads, mesas and burro tails that will take you off in directions not even close to the canyon you are trying to find. After taking many jeep roads and poorly defined trails, by some small miracle, we actually found the right canyon. It was definitely a great hike overall and like nothing we have done before.

The adventure was fun and it challenged us mentally.

If you happen to come here for yourself just be sure to take the second wash on the right.

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Very important to elevate your feet after a strenous hike!

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EPIC. CHALLENGING. DREAMY.

In 2013 and epic throw down was dreamed up by a few friends in Arkansas. The task? Hike the Grand Canyon…South rim to North rim…in a day(R2R). For 3 in our group, it was to hike the south to north, to south(R2R2R).

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For me, this was a 25 year old dream that was hatched as a college girl pact. Back in 1980-something, my friend Sherry and I decided that we would hike the Grand Canyon together before we turned 50. To this day we still don’t know how the Grand Canyon came about, but we never forgot the pact. So, fresh on the 50 train and experiencing mutual hot flashes, Sherry and I decided it had to be done.

After a year of training on meager hills in Arkansas, 17 of us made the trip to “The Big Ditch”. For most, if not all, we were crossing a major item off our bucket list.

We split into 3 groups for the challenge.

First Group (Now that’s just crazy)…Jeff and friends Bill and wife Kendra were doing the R2R2R and left at 1AM. Their plan was to run as much as possible.

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Second Group (Damaged but not defeated)…Myself, Sherry and Paul. We were speed hiking the R2R and left at 5:45AM. We were the damaged group that had experienced some sort of injury just prior to the event.

Third Group (Mildly insane)…The remainder of the group whose plan was to run the R2R. They left at 7AM.

My experience was one that I will never forget. Starting off just before dawn, we descended down the Bright Angel trail with headlamps on. As we looked further down we could see other headlamps of hikers who got up earlier than we did.

We had a sliver of moon and an abundance of stars which kept us captivated and company for the first hour. We stopped often to take in the silent and the simple beauty of the moment.

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As the sun started to rise, sides of the canyon started to glow, changing colors with every step. Each elevation of the GC has different layers of rock. A new color spectrum to reveal. Everywhere we looked the view was breathtaking. It was hard to watch our footing while taking in the site of it all.

The GC is a unique hike in that you start at 6860 ft of elevation and descend down to 2480 ft. As we headed down to the depths of the canyon, breathing became easier. At the bottom of canyon is Phantom Ranch. It was a welcome sight after 4 1/2 hours of hiking. We refueled and headed out across the bottom of the canyon that traversed tributary rivers the feed into the Colorado river.

Then…the assent climbing back up to 8241 ft elevation to the North Rim Trailhead. As the sun sets it created another kaleidoscope of color on the canyon walls. It was a sight to behold and one I will never forget. The last 4 1/2-5 hours was a steady uphill climb of switch backs and cliff gripping trails.

I was in awe every step from the south rim to north. It is not a view everyone gets to see and we consider ourselves blessed to have the health, strength and desire to take on the challenge.

I’m happy that I got to do this experience with my husband and my friends.

What can I say about this hike? It was epic.  The hardest thing I have ever done. The fulfillment of a couple of college schoolgirls dreams.

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