Arizona, Chile, Japan

More Blog Posts Are Available For Download On GPSMyCity!

I’m excited to announce that more of my blog posts are now available in the GPSMyCity app for iphones and ipads. The upgraded version includes a map with points of interest for a dynamic walking tour for only $0.99. A free version is also available without the map. Either way, I’d be extremely grateful if my friends and readers took the time to click the “Like” button on each tour in the GPSMyCity App, as it will help my downloads! In the app, you can search the specific titles below to find my posts.

Tour of Tombstone, Arizona
Strolling Around Santiago, Chile
A Walking Tour of Narita, Japan

Advertisements
Arizona

Hiking Piestewa Peak and Echo Valley Trail Under the Sun in Phoenix

November 18, 2014

A nice thing about Phoenix in the winter is I don’t have to worry about being cold!  The seventy degree temperatures were a nice break from the single digits in Denver.

Today I took two hikes.  The first was up Piestewa Peak, previously known as Squaw Peak.  Piestewa was renamed to honor the first Native American woman to die in combat in the US military.  At 2,610 feet, the peak is the second highest point in the Phoenix mountains located just a mile from the Biltmore where I was staying.

Signs warned the trail was difficult which I thought were posted for tourists that over-estimate their ability and forget a water bottle during the summer months.  Being from Denver, I didn’t think the path should be a problem.  Thankfully, “sea level” conditions compared to what I am used to helped my climb, but admittedly gaining 1,208 feet in 1.2 miles isn’t simple.

I took my time climbing up countless stairs to the summit.  Though others sounded like they might collapse any minute, as they hurried up the path.  Given its close proximity to the city, many locals use the trail for exercise.  While the close proximity is a plus, the amount of people enjoying the outdoors was con!  It didn’t stop me from enjoying the view of the city, checking out the cacti, and spotting a bird pecking at its prey, a grasshopper.

After my descent, I enjoyed some time at the Biltmore, a lovely desert oasis that offers chess on the lawn, a fancy pool, tennis, golf and even my own private pool at my bungalow.

For the afternoon, I set out for my next hike on Echo Canyon Trail to the summit of Camelback. Echo Valley Trail is 2.3 miles roundtrip and gains 1,300 feet in elevation.  I figured it couldn’t be any harder than Piestewa Peak, but surprisingly it was a challenge.

I enjoyed a short stroll up a wide, smooth and ascending path to the saddle.  After that, I climbed stairs made of railroad ties that passed by enormous an enormous wall of rock.  Soon I reached a steep climb up a gulley.  I mistakenly followed a macho guy who didn’t think the handrail was necessary, thus I had to set my water bottle down to use both hands to scramble up the slope. Thereafter, I was left to maneuver my way through a boulder field for a mile.

Thirty-six posts marked the way.  Many were only about 30 feet apart in order to mark the weaving trail through the rocks.  While some people run the rocks, I chose to take it slowly as to not twist an ankle or fall on the uneven terrain.  I’m certain there are quite a few injuries and rescues on this trail despite all the warning signs.  Just over mile to Camelback Peak doesn’t sound like much, but it takes close to an hour to reach the summit, or at least it does with a water bottle in one hand and a camera in the other.  I suggest scrapping the camera and wearing a Camelback reservoir of water.

The trail is a great outdoor workout.  No need for a stairmaster at the gym and a good way to enjoy a nice dinner at all the amazing restaurants in Scottsdale.  I indulged in several tasty meals during my visit!  What a nice summer vacation in the winter.  ETB

Use the coupon: HOLIDAY5 for a discount on my products at http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
snowy falls website copy

http://www.tripping.com/rentals/united-states/arizona/phoenix

Arizona

Days 292 and 293 – Petrified Forest National Park

Days 292 and 293 – Petrified Forest National Park, October 4 and 5, 2011

Well, I didn’t see anything of interest yesterday except
road construction taking place in the rain.
Most the time the road is just blocked off with no one there.  I couldn’t believe a crew was working in the
rain!  I did forget to mention that
while in Kings Canyon I parked behind a car with a Hawaii license plate, and I
recall an Alaska one from Washington.
While I didn’t concentrate on the other 48 states or for that matter consciously
look for Hawaii and Alaska plates, I believe I can say I succeeded at the
license plate game!

Today was actually a very interesting day.  I was spared the strong winds and rains of
yesterday and enjoyed a mostly cloudy sky and a cool breeze while visiting the
Petrified Forest National Park.  I had
expected to make my stop brief as I had already seen petrified wood in the
Painted Desert previously on my journey, but I ended up staying in the park
several hours.

When I hear the word forest, I always think of trees
standing upward, thus each time I get to a petrified forest that tends to be a
barren area with fallen trees of stone, I am automatically slightly disappointed.  I keep hoping to see several standing
petrified trees.  I guess it isn’t easy
for silica-laden waters to cover a standing tree for a period long enough to
turn it to stone.  Regardless, the
Petrified Forest National Park was a pleasant surprise in that there were
several WHOLE fallen trees that had turned to stone.  Most other places, I have only seen a section
or a stump.

One tree included its trunk and roots.  It was known as “Old Faithful”.  The colors on all the fallen trees were magnificent:
swirls of reds, whites, purples, oranges.
In one area called Crystal Forest, trees included crystals with the
stones.  In addition, it seemed like a
few trees were completely petrified.  I
don’t know if that is possible, but the bark was a lighter color and felt more
like wood than stone.

In addition to the petrified wood, the southern portion of
Petrified Forest National Park showcased badlands striped in a various shades
of purple, Indian ruins, and petroglyphs.
There was even a petrified log bridge as well as an old cabin made of
petrified wood.  I would have liked to
spend more time walking to the cabin and through the badlands, but that would
have required about 6.8 miles of walking as opposed to about 2 miles for
which I had a mindset.  I suppose I could
have made time for more walking, but I didn’t really feel like making a long
day for myself or feel like leaving Petey in VANilla for endless hours.

After visiting the Giant Logs, Crystal Forest, Agate Bridge,
Jasper Forest, Blue Mesa badlands, the Tepees (badlands in a cone formation),
Newspaper Rock, and Puerco Pueblo we crossed the historic Route 66 to visit the
northern section for spectacular views of the Painted Desert.  Green valleys contrasted with the orange,
pink, salmon, and rust bands of the Painted Desert as the sun and shadows
accentuated certain areas of the panoramic vista.  The colors were striking.  I can only imagine what it would have been
like on a slightly clearer day…not too bright, but not as cloudy as today.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable midday stop on my drive from
Flagstaff to Albuquerque…ETB

websites: https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painted_Desert_(Arizona)

For photographic notecards or key chains, visit www.notablenotecards.com, www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

Arizona, Utah

Day 171 – Monument Valley Meander

Day 171 – Monument Valley Meander, May 17, 2011

Indian territory in Arizona recognizes daylight savings, so I ended up losing an hour and got a bit of a late start this morning.  VANilla carted us about 60 miles to Navajo National Monument past an interesting pair of buttes called Elephant Feet.  As one would guess, these sandstone monuments look like wrinkled, leathery elephant feet.

Upon arriving at Navajo National Monument, I took a paved path past pygmy junipers and pinyon pines to an overlook across the canyon from Betatakin, a 700 year old ruin built in a cavern of the canyon wall which also qualifies as a virtual cache (Utah is checked off the list).  I attempted to make out some petroglyphs that were painted on the cliff to the right of the dwelling, but I was unsuccessful.  Another lady nearby remarked she failed at spotting them too.  As we turned back toward the visitor center, I commented that this morning breeze is chilly.  “Yes, she replied, “I woke up to an inch of snow at the campground this morning.”  I thought to myself, I’m glad I chose to stay in Tuba City last night…60 miles south and no snow!

An added bonus to visiting the Navajo National Monument was the rock placed at the beginning of the trailhead with a dinosaur print.  I had considered visiting IMG_2247 navajo national monument“Dinosaur Tracks” a location near Tuba City, but I googled the attraction and found that guides cost anywhere from $2 to $10, may be drunks or may have attended archaeology school, and tourists could be misinformed about the types of tracks in the area.  With that description, I passed, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a sampling as I strolled to the dwelling.

After making the one mile roundtrip walk, I took another dirt path to a historic ranger station before steering VANilla to the northeast toward Monument Valley National Tribal Park.  Before reaching the park we stopped at another roadside rock called Agathla Peak.  The peak, a dark grey color that looked out of place relative to the red rock and desert surroundings, is believed to be the core of a volcano.

We finally made it to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park which rests on the Utah-Arizona border.  Now I’m on mountain time for months.  Visitors could take a self-guided 17 mile drive along a rutted, unpaved road requiring a high clearance vehicle past a variety of rock formations or take guided tours in jeeps or by horseback.  Since Petey had spent a good portion of the day in VANilla, I opted for a hiking trail that led from a primitive campground, along a sandy path through sage brush and other desert plants, around a butte, and back to the parking area.  The 3.2 mile loop stretched Petey’s abilities, but after stopping three times to pour him water and tugging on him occasionally, we finally made it back to VANilla.  Sadly, it wasn’t even hot!

As I was finishing up the trail, another lady beginning the hike asked if it was worth it.  I kind of shrugged and said, “You can see it from here, but I’d rather be walking around it than driving around it.”  Especially behind the countless cars, I thought to myself.  I was very surprised to see the parking lot full of tour buses and the line of cars bouncing along the dirt road.  It appears summer is approaching.

Petey and I continued on to Mexican Hat, so named for the nearby rock formation that resembles an upside down sombrero.  About ¾ of a mile before reaching the formation, there is a roadside pullout, a small hill that provides a spectacular view of the sombrero as well as the cliffs situated behind the formation that looked like a child’s finger painting, and a geocache.  Visitors can navigate a dirt road for a closer glimpse of the formation, but I really liked the view better from this location.  Nice hide for a geocache.  I dropped off the travel bug I picked up in Ely and an MS rubber bracelet before signing the log book and heading to Goosenecks State Park where I had hoped to find campgrounds and shower facilities.  Not so, in fact the park is simply a parking lot overlooking the Great Goosenecks of the San Juan River.  It was somewhat fascinating to see the river zigzag back and forth in such a small area.  In addition, it was odd to be able to camp for free in the state park parking lot.  I wouldn’t have even known the area was designated for camping except a bus full of teenagers was unloading their tents.

Several people ended up camping here including the lady I met on the trail in Monument Valley.  Her name turned out to be Margaret.  She was from Oakland and met up with an archaeological group to inspect Indian ruins.  In addition to seeing Margaret at the campgrounds, I met Walt and Linda who invited me to sit by their campfire.  They were from Scottsdale and on their way home after a week’s visit to Utah.  Marion also took them up on sitting by their campfire.  She was from Germany and spending two and a half months traveling through the states.  She woke up to an inch of snow this morning too…she camped in the same location as the ladies I met at Navajo National Monument this morning…small world.  It was a little odd to run into two other single women camping, but it was fun to sit with the group and socialize for a bit.  Margaret tipped me off that there is a Laundromat with showers in Bluff…on the list for tomorrow’s visits!  ETB

websites:  https://www.nps.gov/nava/index.htm, http://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/goosenecks/, http://navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm

For photographic notecards or key chains, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

boots website copy

Arizona

Day 170 – Grand Canyon Loop – Part 2

Day 170 – Grand Canyon Loop, May 16, 2011 (The first part of this loop was about 6 weeks ago)

I’m not even sure how to start this blog about the Grand Canyon.  When I originally plotted my course around the USA, I simply glanced at the number of stops and total number of miles associated with each drive listed in the Reader’s Digest Book and allotted a day for every four stops or 100 scenic miles on average.  Each day, upon reviewing the drive a little closer the night before I depart, I mentally determine general stopping points based on location, shower and food needs, and cell service and adjust my tour accordingly.

Upon reviewing the drive along the Grand Canyon South Rim, many of the stops were merely overlooks which don’t take much time compared to hikes.  I decided I would travel the South Rim which included 8 stops and only 35 scenic miles of driving in a day as opposed to the original two days I set aside.  A few items that entered into my decision making process were the fact I had already twice rafted down the Colorado River which carved the Grand Canyon, reliance on my imagination given my limited knowledge of possible rim activities, and the perceived effort of finding a place to stay for the night.  While it may take me a while to make up my mind, once I set my mind to something, it is difficult for me to change it.

I must say, if I had a do over, this may have been a place for a retry.  First and foremost, there are a million places to stay both inside and outside the park, cell service is plentiful in the populated areas, restaurants are nearby, and a handful of hiking activities exist at the rim.  Despite the fact I know the Grand Canyon is a major national and international attraction and I presumed commercialization would be present, I was surprised to see the extent.  I guess I expected Williams, about 60 miles from the park, to be the last major stop and that the area nearby the southern park entrance would be somewhat remote…not so.  I also expected that a road would pass by the canyon, tourists could pull off into the parking lot, walk up to a railing and snap a photo, and perhaps walk a few hundred yards near the edge of the rim.

Little did I know that a 13 mile paved trail without railings mirrored the southern rim.  Moreover, I didn’t realize visitors could test their stamina on a few trails leading into the canyon, but not have to commit to making the 7.8 mile trek down to the river, resulting in over a 15 mile roundtrip hike that isn’t recommended as a day hike.  In addition, I expected the most well known trail, Bright Angel, to be extremely narrow when in fact it was generally four to five feet wide.  While I’ve bungy jumped and skydived, standing too close to a ledge tends to make my stomach churn, my head spin, and my knees buckle, so I didn’t think I’d enjoy the  Bright Angel Trail.  Had I really understood the opportunities in the park, I would have stayed nearby the park and gotten a very early start to at least attack the 3 mile roundtrip hike down to the first Rest Stop on Bright Angel Trail and then spent some time walking the rim trail where Petey was allowed to join me.  The second day, I would have attempted the Grand View Trail that looked narrower and steeper than the Bright Angel Trail and according to the sign wasn’t maintained and then bounced around to a few of the additional vistas in VANilla.

Having said all that, a day was enough for me this go around, but I think it would be fun to return with some fellow hikers, a reserved spot at Phantom Ranch on the canyon floor, no dog, and a handful of days set aside to hike in the canyon.  I’m told that 80% of people who have visited the Grand Canyon have only been to the rim.  At the risk of offending a few readers, I must say those who have only visited the rim have short changed themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, one must admire the grandeur of the canyon (277 river miles long and 1 mile deep), marvel at the length of time it took to form (millions of years), and wonder in amazement at the explorers who found a way to cross the 10 to 18 mile wide gorge.

But the experience at the rim is entirely different from the experience on the canyon floor.  It’s like going on a sightseeing tour as opposed to an adventure.  While the sheer size of the canyon is indescribable and had to be both an inspiring and frustrating site to early explorers heading west, the raging waters of the Colorado River that look like a calm creek from the rim provide rafters with an exhilarating journey through the largest navigable rapid in the Northern Hemisphere – Lava Falls.  As the cool breeze at the rim keeps temperatures near an enjoyable 8o degrees for summer tourists, valley goers tolerate icy 42 degree water released from the depths of Lake Powell to find relief from the still 100 degree heat below.  The immense serenity visitors feel as they gaze at birds gliding above the multitude of butte, spires, and plateaus contrasts with the intensity adventurers on the canyon floor feel from vigorous hikes to cliffside Indian dwellings, body surfing the Little Colorado’s rapids, and leaping from the tops of waterfalls to pools below.  It is like visiting two separate places in one.

Now to start the description of my day…My “sightseeing” day began in Williams.  After visiting the local coffee shop operated by two kids that had to be under thirteen, I tried to find a geocache in the local cemetery to drop off the travel bug I picked up the other day, but the high winds and tall trees were wreaking havoc on my gps.  My device never registered that I was within 140 feet of the cache when in fact, through the description of the cache location and the hint, I’m quite certain I was near ground zero.  While I failed in the caching department, I may have found the most colorful cemetery in America.  All the graves were decorated with anything from plastic flowers, beer bottles, day of the dead memorabilia, paint, stuffed animals and flags.  It was quite a place.  While I haven’t visited too many cemeteries in my lifetime, this one ranks as a favorite.

We continued on to the South Rim where we visited Yavapai Point and walked a few miles on the paved rim trail.  Given all the photos I took, the short distance took a long time to cover!  I find the vastness of the Grand Canyon awesome, but also slightly discouraging as the haze, even on a clear day, seems to wash out the colors of the canyon walls.  According to the information sign, I could see 150 miles, yet I felt like my eye was only picking up a tenth of the colors.  Imagine viewing the canyon walls at closer distance, I can’t imagine the multitude of colors that would be present.

After the walk along the point that wasn’t extremely crowded, we drove west to a parking area near the Bright Angel Trailhead and the shuttle bus stop where visitors can take a 75 minute West Rim tour not counting the time to visit overlooks and wait for the next shuttle that runs every 15 minutes.  The line for the shuttle bus looked at least 30 minutes long, and given I’m in a car all day, I decided to venture down the Bright Angel Trail. As I previously mentioned, I was pleased to see the trail was much wider than I had imagined and well maintained.  Most of the folks along the first mile of the trail were simply rim visitors, but I met a couple that had packed out from the campground below.  They seemed slightly worn out, but enjoyed the adventure.  I also couldn’t help but think what it would have been like to be at the Bright Angel Trail when Oprah filmed her exercising and dieting efforts.  That had to have been chaos!

After meandering down and then back up Bright Angel for only an hour and stopping for chats and photo opportunities along the way, I joined Petey in VANilla, and followed the road back to the east to enjoy a handful of overlooks, including:  Grandview, Moran Point, Tusayan Ruin, Lipan Point, Desert View and Watch Tower.

My favorite overlooks were Grandview and Lipan Point and I found these spots to be more magical than the views located near the hype.  Grandview Point came to be in 1890, when prospector Pete Berry staked the Last Chance copper claim 3,000 feet below the rim on Horseshoe Mesa which began a 17 year flurry.   Despite the mine’s ore earning a World’s Fair prize in 1893 for being over 70% pure copper, the high cost of packing ore to the rim and shipping it to be refined doomed the operation.  Pete Berry sold the mine in 1901, and the new owners ceased operations in 1907 when copper prices plunged.  In the meantime, Pete Berry began operating his Grand View Hotel.  Tourists took a 12 hour stagecoach ride from Flagstaff to take a mule ride into the canyon.  Thus began Grand Canyon tourism!  Grandview was the canyon’s most popular tourist destination until the Sante Fe Railroad reached Grand Canyon Village, 11 miles down the road and tourists chose the train over stagecoach transportation.

Both Grandview and especially Lipan Point provided wonderful views of the Colorado River.  Hance Rapid could be spotted below Lipan Point.  The rapid is almost a mile in length and drops more than 30 feet.  While on the river, this rapid appears enormous, while on the rim, it was hardly visible.  Had the information sign not pointed it out, I would have thought I was only watching a trickle of white water.

While Moran Point is named for the artist whose paintings helped persuade the federal government to preserve the canyon for all Americans, I didn’t find this view to be particularly interesting, though I’m thankful that Moran raised awareness of the Grand Canyon.  I moved on to take a quick walk through the Tusayan Ruin and finally to visit Desert View.  I was really looking forward to climbing the 70 foot Watchtower perched on the edge of the cliff, but it was closed for renovation.   The tower, designed by Mary Colter, was completed in 1933.  Her goal was to build a structure providing the widest possible view while harmonizing with its setting.

For more information on the Grand Canyon and how it was formed see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Canyon as I could obviously write for days.  It even tells you how many over zealous photographers have fallen over the edge.

VANilla carried us to Tuba City for the evening where I found a spot in the Quality Inn parking lot.  Oh how I wished I acted on my thought to use the shower facilities at the Grand Canyon in the middle of the day.  I think it may have been a mistake to pass them up.  At least the hotel has a restaurant that prepared a mean green chili and pork soup.  It hit the spot.  ETB

websites: https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm

For photographic notecards or key chains, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

Arizona, Nevada

Day 169 – Hoover Dam and Travel Day

Day 169 – Hoover Dam and Travel Day, May 15, 2011

Petey and I left the Wal-Mart parking lot early, stopped for a shower at 24 Hour Fitness where I am a gym member, and then headed toward Hoover Dam.  I wanted to take a tour of the dam which is on a first come, first served basis starting at 9 am.

We reached an overlook where we took in the views of Lake Mead before continuing a mile further where there was a security check point.  I joined the RV line, as I presumed they’d at least check my propane tank like I had experienced in crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.  I was also a little anxious about carrying my .38 pistol.  At the overlook, I at least unloaded it.  Security required that I open the side door to VANilla so they could take a look inside.  I was relieved when he only peeked inside and didn’t open the cabinet where I had stashed my revolver. Petey was happy to get a quick pat.

As I hopped back in VANilla, the security guard asked if I was going to look at the bridge.  I replied, “Well I had hoped to take a tour of the dam.”  He said they wouldn’t let me park with a dog in the car, despite the fact it was 60 degrees, the windows open, the shades come down, and I can turn on fan; but suggested I tell the parking attendant that Petey could be left in environmentally safe conditions.

Had the security guard not inquired about the bridge, I may have passed right by it in my rush to get to the dam.  I’m glad I didn’t.  Stairs led up to the bridge from the parking lot and along the way several information signs regarding the construction of the bridge lined the concrete path.  Each time I see a bridge I marvel at the design and wonder why is the bridge made of steel or concrete?  Why is it a suspension bridge?  How much is aesthetics and which parts could be left out for a functioning bridge at a lower cost?

The information boards not only explained the design chosen – The Deck Arch – but included diagrams of how the bridge was constructed over Lake Mead.  While bridge discussions began in the 1960’s the project didn’t come to fruition until the mid 1990’s when the Central Federal Lands Highway Division of Federal Highway Administration (CFLHD) stepped into the leadership role.  The CFLHD engaged a design team and consultants in 2001 and project construction began in 2005.  With a budget of $240 million ($20 million from both Nevada and Arizona, $100 million from the Federal Government, and $100 million of bond proceeds, the bridge was completed in 2010.  Amazingly, the bridge and dam look as if they were built around the same time period, yet the bridge was constructed 74 years after the dam was completed for a cost of $49 million in 1936.

What appears to be a single, concrete arch is actually a pair of ribs held together at the crown by steel that flexes in high winds and earthquakes to protect the whole arch from damage.  Many of the bridge components including the concrete columns and steel cages were precast and lowered into place through a cable system where workers hung 800 feet above the river connecting the pieces together. The bridge consists of 30,000 cubic yards of concrete and 16,000,000 pounds of steel.  A few facts about the bridge:  Bridge Length – 1,905 feet, Bridge Height Above River – 880 feet, Bridge Height Above Dam  – 280 feet, Arch Span Length – 1,060 feet, Hollow Arches – 20 feet wide by 14 feet tall.

So after wandering around the bridge which actually provided a nice view of the dam, I pulled into the covered parking garage and dispensed $7 for the parking fee.  The attendant asked if I had any pets in the vehicle, and I honestly replied, yes.  She promptly handed back my money and said I couldn’t park in the shaded garage, that I had to cross the dam and park in the overlook located in the full sun and I had to stay with my dog at all times!  Given he lives in VANilla and it wasn’t even hot, Petey would have been fine, but I didn’t want to risk someone hearing him whine if he got anxious, so I took a few snapshots and left.  Looks like I’ll have to come back to Vegas without my old man.

As I approached the bridge to cross into Arizona, I witnessed a road sign that was new to me:  “Due to the Possibility of High Winds, High Profile Vehicles Use Left Lane”.  I’m sorry, seeing that sign, I wouldn’t want to be a low profile vehicle in the right lane.  If there is a concern that tractor trailers may be blown to the right off the bridge, I wouldn’t want to be between them and the railing.  Furthermore, I found it slightly entertaining that the highway sign in indirect words suggested slower traffic to move to the left as opposed to the right…the European way.

I think crossing the bridge may have been the least windy portion of my drive to Williams, Arizona today.  The wind shook VANilla so hard, I had to reduce my speed.  Since I’ve been in Williams, it seems like the wind has increased in force hourly.  VANilla is shaking while parked.  In fact, the wind is so strong it sounds like a jumbo jet is flying overhead.  Speaking of jumbo jets I may have forgotten to say that is what Yosemite Falls sounded like.  I looked up in the sky on more than one occasion for a plane or thunder clouds to find neither.

For a town of 2,500 people I was surprised to see almost every restaurant open on a Sunday night…shops too.  Being situated only one hour south of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, it’s clear the town caters to tourism.  I decided to try a local joint for dinner, Pancho McGillicuddys.  While I would have normally ordered a local beer on tap with my chicken taco salad, I just couldn’t pass up a Dos Equis Amber – my favorite.  While enjoying surprisingly good Mexican food, I met the previous owner of the restaurant, Kevin.  He has opened five restaurants in Williams over the years and for the last five years has been selling them.  He has been retired in Mexico for the last three years in a small fishing village 100 miles south of Rocky Point.  He claims the area is very safe, and in fact he hasn’t locked his house for all three years of his retirement!

Tonight I’m sleeping in a Holiday Inn parking lot.  I had a choice of almost any hotel chain (Motel 6, Howard Johnson, Days Inn, Comfort Inn) and an RV Park.  The Holiday Inn just seemed safer and quieter as it is located near the main highway on the outskirts of town, while most the others are situated in town on Historic Route 66 or Grand Canyon Blvd, the two main roads that intersect Williams.  Tomorrow, I’m Grand Canyon bound.  ETB

websites: http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/

For photographic notecards or key chains, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

windmill website copy

Arizona

Day 129 – Another Lazy Day in Carefree

Day 129 – Another Lazy Day in Carefree, April 5, 2011

Another lazy day in Carefree is just what I needed.  We went to breakfast at Fluff’s favorite coffee shop.  It was rather crowded for a late morning on a work day.  The shop had an inside and outside counter with barstools, an outside patio, a few lounge chairs and a few inside tables.  It also had four beers on draught because a few nights a week they have live music.  We chose coffee and a breakfast sandwich this morning and ate at the outside counter so Petey could hang out with us.  As we chatted about where I was headed next, Fluff informed me a section of Hwy 1 in California had washed into the ocean!  I didn’t know that.  I will have to do a little more rerouting of my trip.  Before we left, a biker came in with his cat on a leash (I’m glad Petey was outside).  That’s the second cat on a leash that I’ve seen on my journey so far.  The other was at a campground in West Texas.

On the way back to the house, we made a quick stop at the resort to take a peek at the main room and dining room.  Fluff said, “You’ve hardly seen anything since you’ve been here, and your mom is going to ask, did you see this?  What about this?”  It was fine with me to “not see much”, though I felt like I saw quite a bit.  Besides how many people can say they’ve seen a baby hummingbird in its nest?  In addition, I planned for more down days on this leg of my journey just to rest and address odds and ends that come up.  And, anyone that knows Fluff and Charlie, knows it’s just plain FUN to sit and chat with them.

VANilla was supposed to be ready and waiting for me around noon in Scottsdale, so we lounged around the house until I got a phone call saying the parts they received were incorrect, more are coming.  So with that, we decided to do a bit more wandering as VANilla wouldn’t be in tip top shape until late afternoon.  We strolled around the shops and restaurants in Carefree and stopped at the Sundial, the largest in the USA.  Judging from the shadow created by the Sundial, it was around 2 o’clock.  Also, a nano geocache was hidden in the area, so I picked it up quickly.  It was hidden in plain sight, but blended in quite well.  As we headed to Big Earl’s for a milkshake, I got the call…VANilla was anxiously waiting to continue our journey.

By the time I got VANilla back to the house, packed up, and water tank filled, it was rush hour, so we waited until six before going west to Indio, California.  A lovely sunset unfolded as we left the outskirts of Phoenix, so I decided it was a good time to fill VANilla up with gas and snap a picture.  Soon thereafter, we drove in the dark crossing through Quartzsite, a town that caters to snowbirds, and Blythe, a place I was told to stay below the speed limit.  The exits on I-10 were few and far between for the next few hours.  It was a good time to insert the CD full of songs that Fluff provided me.  I imagine a few songs of the day will come from here.  ETB

PS.  Fluff and Charlie, thank you for a wonderful visit!

For photographic notecards or key chains, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards