The Birds!

Now, you might think I’m referring to the horror movie classic by the same name directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Could this be the re-make? No…not really! But it sure would make for some fantastic video!

If we had to make a choice, bird watching would not be at the top of the list of exciting thing to do. Now don’t get me wrong. We love all things nature and having had numerous bird feeders, bird baths, etc, we’ve enjoyed having feathered friends around. This on the other hand is bird watching on steroids!

In Arizona, just south of the small town of Wilcox, there’s a place called White Water Draw. Each winter twenty five to thirty thousand ( yes, I said thousand!) Sand Hill Cranes migrate to this oasis in the desert. It’s one of the most incredible acts of nature we’ve ever seen!!

The routine is pretty simple. Shortly after sunrise, the cranes all fly off to farm fields miles away to feed. Late morning they all return until early after noon at which time they all fly off again and return …everyday, all winter long!

Look closely high in the sky! As far as the eye can see. Sand Hill Cranes! You would think that with this many birds landing they would be on top of each other. Nope! They manage to pick out a postage size spot of real-estate and set down. Truly amazing!

This whole day came completely as a surprise. We had no idea what an awesome experience we were in for. Witnessing first hand nature at its finest! Making the day even better was to share it with good friends John and Evelyn Avery.

Tombstone: Too tuff to die!

A little more than 40 miles north of the Mexican border is the town of Tombstone. The town they say is too tuff to die!

Wyatt, Virgil & Morgan Erp along with Doc Holiday, Ike Clanton ,and the infamous red sashed “Cowboys” once walked these streets.

Movies and television have played and re-played Hollywood’s version of the famous gun fight at the OK Corral. Walk in to any of the area gift shops and you’ll find a vast array of books on the subject or the life of Wyatt Erp. But there’s a big difference between the legend and fact. But hey! Let’s not ruin a good story with facts!

Today Tombstone is alive and well as a popular tourist stop. Gift shops, tee shirts shops, saloons serving food now occupy most of the town. You can watch a reenactment, ride in a stage coach, cozy up to a bar for a beer, or get caught up in the moment with your own …….

re-enactment!??

A Time To Reflect

Another year has come and gone. Tradition it seems, is to look back and reflect on time gone by. Politics, war, natural disasters, and senseless hate has dominated the news.

But the sun rises on a new year with hope. Hope that the wars will end, the hate will stop, our leaders will be wise, and our planet survives.

As we reflect, we’re filled with gratitude. We’re thankful for our wonderful family, the opportunity to travel this great county, and for the many friends we have met along the way.

So with hope and love in our hearts, to our family and friends, to all who follow our travels, we wish you all that is good in the coming year!

4 Wheel’n…..

Or otherwise know as a bunch of retired guys tearing up the desert acting like teenagers!!

If you really want to see Arizona, you have to broaden you horizon and go off road! There are hundreds and hundreds of miles of trails that criss-cross the state. Some are in the valleys, and some go deep in to the mountains where a lot of western history was made.

Benson Arizona is just one of the many small towns that attract snowbirds looking to escape northern winters. It’s also a perfect place to escape to the back country and get an adrenaline rush and marvel at the beauty of it all!

When I was given the opportunity to tag along on, it took all of a split second for me to say “OH HELL YES!!” It’s 8:00am and the caravan gathers to discuss the days ride. Actually, more trash talk than planning! All loaded up, lunches and water stored, we follow the leader to where the the pavement ends, the road narrows, and the adventure begins.

Oh this is going to be fun!

My mental image of Arizona desert prior was lots and lots of sand and cactus. I was completely wrong! Rugged terrain for sure and yes plenty of cactus. But what I didn’t expect was deep canyons, lush greenery, and plenty of wild life (of which I was too slow to capture on the phones camera).

Plenty of cactus! In fact for the most part if it grows here, it will hurt you!

How far we went into the back country I’m not sure. All know is within a few minutes I was totally lost. Thank God the guys leading the pack knew where we are…….I think!…. They do don’t they??

Crumbling remnants of an old town, though small, still stand. As the story goes, the former resident of this place is buried here.

Sooooo much fun! My Thanks to everyone for inviting me along!

UP Top in Arizona

We really enjoyed  the time we spent at the Grand Canyon. So much so that we had no plans for where to go after! No reservations, just a few ideas as to possible destinations. Don’t get me wrong. No plan is not all bad. Part of this lifestyle is to go with the flow. That being said, we’re in snowbird heaven and parks fill quickly when winter in the North sets in. So fire up the internet in search of our next stop.

After a few phone calls of “Sorry, we’re full”, we were referred to a new park in Cottonwood, a small town a short distance from the very popular town of Sedona. Although still under construction a portion of the park was completed with very few occupied sites. The best part? It’s on top of a Mesa which overlooks the entire Sedona Valley!

As a nice added bonus, just a short walk from the park, …Horses! One of Susans’ favorite photo subjects!

We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful spot!  The scenery all around us is just breathtaking! Beautiful sunsets making the surrounding red colored  mountains explode with brilliance. And when stormy weather is around, we have a front row seat!

Just one of the many places to stop and enjoy the view!

A short drive from Cottonwood is the old mining town of Jerome. Built on the side of a mountain, Jerome was once booming with a population of  several thousand mainly due to the rich copper mines the town was built on top of. Eventually the mines closed and the town all but died.

One of those mines was purchased and turned into a museum of sorts. More like an antique collection intermixed with the old buildings that were once home to the many miner that worked there.

Being the old wood chuck  that I am, (woodworker for those that don’t know the term) I was fascinated watching this old steam/gas fired saw mill which was still in operation. The giant blade was chewing its way through cedar and mesquite logs with the slabs sold to craftsmen willing to pay dearly.

Blade guard?…NOPE!
The view from Jerome

Taking road trips is one of our favorite thing to do. Looking at the Arizona road map, RT89 out of Sedona was through a canyon. So armed with PBJ’s we’re off! No large trucks on this road and this is why!

Switchbacks wind you up the canyon.

Our initial thought was to stay in this area for a couple weeks. We ended up staying for six! This part of Arizona is just gorgeous! We’ve had many highlights in our travels. This area certainly makes that list.

Last year Texas was pretty chilly so this time around we decided to spend a couple of months in southern AZ. We’ll move to Texas in February so for now, we’re off to Benson! 

The Push for the Grand Canyon

We’ve been pounding pavement day after day making our way west hoping to make the Canyon before the weather changes. Moving everyday several hundred miles is exhausting. We decided to break the pace in Amarillo Texas.

There’s not much to see in Amarillo but we did manage to find a privately owned antique car museum that was amazing. Bill’s Backyard Classics had everything from modern type Hot Rods, 1920’s-30’s oldies, and lots of really cool Caddies!

Comparing these to modern-day cars…..I think we’ve truly lost a sense of design!

After 1900 miles, traveling through what seemed like endless road construction, the remnants of a hurricane, and having gotten the coach stuck, we finally park in Williams, AZ. The Grand Canyons’ south rim is still 50 miles away.

We wake up early, pack lunches, and we’re off! The morning air is crisp and the weather forecast for the canyon is a bit iffy but we’re not deterred! This has been a bucket list item for some time!

We get parked and make our way to the visitor center to get the lay of the land. Shuttle schedule, hiking trails, the best picture spots and “what not to miss” suggestions top the agenda for the awaiting park ranger.

Armed with more info than one can remember it’s off to the closest observation point to get our first glimpse. And this is what we see…….2018 October Grand Canyon day 1_10 04 18_7664

FOG! The entire canyon is fogged in! Visibility is less that a quarter-mile and with the exception of a couple hundred feet down….nothing but white! We’re SO BUMMED! And to add to the enjoyment, (sarcasm intended!) it’s starting to rain. We make it to the gift shop just in time before the sky opens up to a torrential down pour! PERFECT!

Hey wait! The clouds are moving on….Sunshine and blue sky! And no more fog! YES! Now this is more like it!!2018 October Grand Canyon day 1_10 04 18_7823

You can look at a thousand pictures and until you are standing on the edge and looking down five thousand feet, you just can’t appreciate how magnificent this place is! The vastness, the colors, and depth…This is one serious hole in the ground!

2018 October Grand Canyon day 2_10 05 18_7897_edited-1

10 Feet back and it’s a loooong way down!

Every now and then I grab the camera away from my bride in order to put her in the shot. Admittedly, she’s the one that adjusts the settings because, well, I haven’t got a clue how to work the thing! This shot almost looks like Susan is standing in front of a back drop!

So many great observation points are along the length of the canyon. And so many photo opportunities. Just click on a pic for a better view.

We were excited to finally see a few Elk. This bull was just standing off the road and seem to pose as the shuttle moved slowly past. The other two were not far from a parking area.

At the far eastern end of the canyon was “Desert View Watchtower”, and observation tower built by and artist/architect and first opened in 1932. This construction exudes the presence of an ancient people who were the canyons earliest inhabitants. At seventy feet tall it offers awe-inspiring views of the canyon. 2018 October Grand Canyon day 1_10 04 18_7772_edited-1

 

 

2018 October Grand Canyon day 1_10 04 18_7790_edited-1

Wall art carefully restored.

2018 October Grand Canyon day 1_10 04 18_7789_edited-1

Upper floors inside the tower

Part of the enjoyment of our travels is meeting great people and sharing our experiences. We had a great time exploring and spending the afternoon with Joe & Nicki from Natchez, LA.2018 October Grand Canyon day 2_10 05 18_7883

To both of you, our sincere thanks for helping make our afternoon so enjoyable. We  enjoyed your company and are honored to have met you! We hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip.

I mentioned earlier that we were on a fast pace to the canyon in order to beat the winter weather. The day prior to our leaving and moving further south, we woke up to this!

2018, October Cottonwood, AZ Sodonia View RV Park_10 06 18_7956_edited-1

Early October Snowfall

Westward Ho!Again!

It seems that the older we get the faster time goes by. So true was this past summer. When we started this adventure, we agreed that we would travel for 2 years and then decide if we would continue. It seems like yesterday we began traveling and year three is underway. So I guess we continue!

We ended up staying in Michigan longer than expected. Dr’s appointments and a unexpected trip to the hospital petty much put the brakes on an earlier departure. We thought about going east and then south but a hurricane changed that plan in a hurry.

Having missed going to the Grand Canyon twice because of weather, we set that as our destination goal. Leaving Michigan mid month meant we would have push it in order to beat winter weather.

We stopped for the night at Grissom Air Force Base Museum. What a great place to spend the night. Classic war planes, trainers, simulators and a front row seat to air tankers shooting landings. It was a blast!2018, Sept. Grissom Air Museum_09 20 18_7551_edited-1

20180920_150657

Our Best Maverick & Goose impression!

These one night stops are part of the Harvest Hosts network of museums, vineyards, farms etc. that allow RV travelers to stay overnight.

Our next stop was Hodgson Mill in Effingham Ill. Another great stop where we stocked up on some of their excellent baking products.2018 September Amarillo, Tx_09 21 18_7647_edited-1

Moving right along we thought it would be fun to stay at an alpaca farm just a few miles in Oklahoma. The owners said we may have trouble getting through their gate due to our height. It turns out the gate was the least of our problems!

20180923_140539_1537747547491

Better known as an”Awwe S&*% Moment!

The incline of the entry combined with the crown of the gravel road were too much for the coach to make. Our cars’ tow bar and hitch dug deeply into the hard gravel road and both drive wheels of the coach were off the ground! 45 thousand pounds of motorhome are now stuck…. out in the country…..on a one lane gravel road! It doesn’t get any worse! 4 hours and a whole lot of lumber later I was able to finally back it up. Fortunately there was no damage to the coach. Needless to say we never saw any alpacas!

Time to move on!