Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Grand Celebration

You really have to be there.

A couple weeks ago we drove up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon for my birthday, renting a cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge. We've been there before, once many years ago for just a night after I attended an ophthalmology meeting in Las Vegas where we rented a car and visited the Canyon and Sedona, then again in 2015 on a day trip while staying at an RV park in Williams, AZ. Our previous brief visits didn't allow us much time to explore so I thought this would be a good opportunity to spend a little more time and check out the park when the crowds were low. The only downsides were the cold temperatures, snow, and ice on the trails.

Our cabin near the rim but no view

The afternoon we arrived we walked the Rim Trail a few miles to catch the sunset. The paved trail was very icy in many spots so we had to tread carefully.










After our walk we ate dinner at the Bright Angel Lodge dining room, where I just had to take a photo of this sign above the toilet in the ladies room.
Is this really even necessary???
I was awake early the next morning so I bundled up and went out for a walk to try and catch the sunrise. Sadly it was cloudy to the east so it was a non-event, but still a brisk and beautiful walk as daylight filled the canyon. 



Only saw two other people on the trail. 








After breakfast at El Tovar we visited all of the museums and gift shops, then drove along Hermit's Rest Road to the end, where we parked and walked along more of the Rim Trail that we didn't make it to in previous visits. We also walked about a quarter mile down into the canyon on the Hermit's Rest trail, but turned back when the trail turned to snow and ice.







Since it was in the 40s the ice on the Rim Trail turned to mush, so it wasn't too bad to walk on.


The next morning we woke up to cloudy skies but none of the snow that was predicted overnight. As we were eating breakfast we looked out and saw blowing snow, which began to accumulate. Luckily it stopped by the time we packed up to leave and the roads were mostly clear. 




We had never entered the park from the east via Hwy 64, so we decided to leave this way and check out the overlooks along the road. The wind was bitter cold but the sun came out so it was almost tolerable. We don't do cold well! You get a different perspective of the enormity of the canyon and the Colorado River at each different spot, so it's worth stopping at all of them.







It was SO cold and windy we could barely smile!

I think our favorite stop was at the Desert View Watchtower, close to the east entrance station. Being able to climb up the tower and get an even higher view was pretty spectacular.




The watchtower itself is definitely worth seeing. It was designed by architect Mary Colter and is full of art on the walls and ceiling.





Looking up at the ceiling



It was a good birthday celebration and a nice little break from the desert. Spent our last night in Flagstaff dining on pizza and beer at the most excellent Your Pie, which was close to the Comfort Inn we stayed at. It was nice to get home, though, and back to some warmer weather. We've been out hiking and biking, and visiting with Mark and Bobbie, who arrived a couple days ago. It seems funny to see them in our old Lazy Daze but we're happy they are making good use of it. 


Getting away from this for a few days made us appreciate it even more.








Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020

Happy New Year, everyone! Life is good here in Fountain Hills.


View of snowy Four Peaks from our balcony

Still hiking :-)

Forgot I had some pictures on my phone.

Another view of Four Peak and the fountain from the Lake Trail


And yes, we're still taking care of cats at Fearless Kitty Rescue. This is sweet Maverick, patiently waiting for a new home.



Monday, October 28, 2019

A Visit to Dead Horse Ranch State Park and Sedona, and the End of an Era


On the road again. Decent site at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

The week before last week we took the Lazy Daze a couple hours north to Cottonwood, AZ for a little vacation and some red rock hiking since we didn't go to southern Utah this fall. Plus it was Jim's birthday and I thought we needed to get away for a celebration. We were pleased that everything in the RV worked well after sitting in storage for five months, but it sure did seem small in there. We both marveled that we lived in it for 10.5 years!

We hiked several of the trails in the park and a couple others in Sedona. It was just as beautiful as we remembered from previous visits.

Dead Horse Ranch has three lagoons with trails surrounding them. It's a lovely area to walk.








 


We were about 20 miles from Sedona and found a couple of hikes we had not done before, the first being the Hi Line trail, located between the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona. This is one of many challenging mountain bike trails in the area, so we only saw a few bikers. We would have been pushing our bikes over much of it but it was a fairly easy hike after the initial climb. 



Looking back at Courhouse Butte and Bell Rock

We were heading towards Cathedral Rock

For a good part of the trail we walked and talked with a nice couple from Toronto who were on vacation for a few days in Sedona, then spending the rest of the week in Scottsdale, as they like to visit warm places. It was their first time in Sedona and they were impressed.






Some huge homes among the red rock

We got near the base of Cathedral and turned back for a 5 mile hike. You can also hook up with other trails for an 8 mile loop.

I couldn't talk Jim into seeing if we could climb it.

On Jim's birthday we went out to dinner in Cottonwood with an old friend and former coworker of Jim's from his days working with the state of FL in the Department of Corrections. We hadn't seen Frank in at least 15 years and had only once briefly met his wife Barbara. They were on a big RV trip from Tallahasse, where they live, to most of the western national parks. They had been at the Grand Canyon and Cottonwood was sort of on their way as they were heading back home, so they spent a night at Dead Horse Ranch to visit. We had a great dinner and conversation at Colt 804 Grill in Old Town. We were so busy talking I forgot to take photos.

The next day we hiked in west Sedona starting at the Andante trailhead, making a loop with the Sugarloaf Mtn trail, taking a detour to climb to the top of Sugarloaf. It's less than a 400' climb and up to just under 5,000', but it was still fun to climb a "mountain".











Views of Sedona from the top of Sugarloaf. We only saw a few other people on the trail.











After that we took a drive up into Oak Creek Canyon hoping to see some fall color. Unfortunately, we were too early. It's still a pretty drive, but traffic going through Sedona was awful.







So as strange as it feels to write this, that was our last trip in the Lazy Daze. Some of you may have read Box Canyon Blog's latest post where Mark talks about their new used RV, which will be ours. We just decided that we were done with RVing for now and did not want the hassle of maintaining a vehicle we weren't using much. Mark always said if we sold the Lazy Daze, be sure to let them know, so we did. They will be here tomorrow to pick it up. 

It's been a busy week of cleaning out and cleaning up. The Lazy Daze served us well as our home on wheels for over ten years, without a mechanical breakdown or tire blowout in all that time. It took us to places we never would have imagined and allowed us to meet so many people who became good friends over the years. It's been fun and we will miss it, but as Jim said the other day, if we miss it too much, there are many other RVs out there looking for a new home. 

If you happen to come to McDowell Mountain or the east Phoenix area over the winter, give us a shout. Fountain Hills is a lovely place to visit. We can even take you across the street to Fearless Kitty Rescue to meet some of our favorites. 😸


Chris loves to give hugs, whether you want them or not.