Sunday, April 30, 2017

Horseshoe Bend and Canyon X

Posted from near Page, AZ
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

I'm trying out something new beginning with this blog. When I post pictures in the blog, they are usually just a small fraction of the available photos taken which deal with the subject matter of that blog post.  So......for readers who would rather just look at photos and bypass a lot of my rhetoric I'm going to post links to our Google Photos Albums to enable readers to take a further look.

More photos dealing with todays blog:


On Wednesday (4/26) we decided to visit a few of the nearby beautiful sights.  The first on our list was Horseshoe Bend Overlook. This area is reached via a parking area just off of US89 just south of Page. The land is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and there is no admittance fee for this one.

We were forewarned that the crowds could be heavy and the parking lot fills up quickly. Early morning and late evening are the heaviest times. We arrived around 10:00 AM and had no problems finding a space. We drove by on Saturday about 2:00 PM and cars were lining US89 in both directions. I think we made a wise choice.

We've seen a LOT of tour buses during our stay in the area.  Many are carrying international visitors and they LOVE, LOVE to take pictures. As we were walking up the trail toward the edge we noticed that a small group of these "tourists" had stopped and were photographing like crazy. When we were able to move closer we discovered a small rattlesnake was the subject of the picture taking. Poor guy. I bet he'll remember not to go back to this area again!

After a short hike (about 3/4 mile) from the parking area we arrived at the edge of the canyon and marveled at our first glimpse of the Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River.

Let me just say that my photo does not do this area justice. It's hard to get a sense of the vastness of this marvel. From the rim to the Colorado River beneath is about 1000 feet.

People were lined along the rim to take photographs. At times, people get a bit "crazy" close in their attempts to get that perfect shot.

I eventually climbed up on the rock above Karen's left shoulder to get the following shot from a higher perspective.

Another person beat me to the spot!

We stayed for a bit and took a ton of photos from different points along the rim.  The weather was beautiful, probably in the low 70s, but I definitely would not want to be trekking out here when the temperatures are high and the wind is kicking up.

The next attraction we had heard about from several of our blog readers as a "must see" was Antelope Canyon. I'm a big researcher when it comes to places to visit, so I discovered that the main tours of Antelope Canyon are divided into the Upper and Lower tour.  All tour companies have a general tour as well as a longer photography tour for folks who have nice camera equipment and wish to spend the extra money for more time in the canyon.

All of the tours of Antelope Canyon must be conducted by Navajo guides as the Canyon is on Navajo land. What this means is that in addition to the price of the tours (which are generally $25/person for a standard tour) everyone must pay a Navajo land admittance fee of $8.

There are only a few companies which conduct all of the tours. That generally means that the admission fees are tightly controlled to yield the highest income for the company.  The most popular tour seems to be the Upper Antelope Canyon, followed by the Lower Antelope Canyon. The problem with that is that these tours are generally loaded with people. The amount of folks in the tour groups make it very difficult to photograph the canyon without getting shots of your unknown closest friends.

My research turned up a tour of an area named Canyon X (which is just another part of Antelope Canyon) by Taadidiin Tours. The tour was only $5 more than tours described above and the guides and the tour received great online reviews.  The big draw was that this area has yet to be discovered by the masses and the walk through the canyon is at a much more leisurely pace. We decided to take a chance! Boy were we happy that we did!

We drove past the other tour companies on AZ98 (just east of Page) and looked for our tour at Mile Marker 307.  Well, at least we located the sign.

We turned into the parking area and walked to the "administrative office" of the company.  We were met by one of the Navajo female owners of the company and warmly greeted. She took our credit card on the spot and in a few moments we were loaded into a Suburban and driven to the entrance to Canyon X.

We met our guide Lionel at the top entrance and started a short trek down the hill to the entrance of the first slot canyon we would visit. (By the way, our TOTAL group consisted of one other couple, plus Karen and me.)

These canyons are called slot canyons because they are much taller than they are wide, and are formed by rushing water against the rock. We were in awe as we saw our first glimpse.

Again, none of my photos are able to capture the beauty of these canyons. Our guide was very happy to assist us with camera, cellphone,  and DSLR settings to attempt to capture the best possible photos, however. Here's a vertical panorama shot he took of us using Karen's cellphone.

This tour takes everyone into two different slot canyons. Even the trek between the two was beautiful. Lionel related stories and beliefs of his Navajo ancestors concerning the canyons.

Not to bore everyone with shot after shot of the beautiful interior walls of the canyons, here's just one more. Be sure and click on the Canyon X link at the beginning of this blog if you'd like to see a bunch more.

After approximately 1 1/2 hours it was time to head back to the top to be transported back to the parking lot. I had forgotten how steep (and sandy) that hill was.  These folks were on a prior tour and just starting to head back to the top.

We were VERY HAPPY with our selection of the tour company to visit Canyon X.  I can't imagine being surrounded by lots of fellow "tourists" while being forced to move along. If in the area, I would give this company a try if you want to visit Antelope Canyon.

Okay, that was enough for one day. Actually, we were going to return to the visitor's center at the Glen Canyon Dam to take a tour, but the elevator to the bottom is still out of order.  We might have to table this for a return visit to the Page area.  That wouldn't be such a bad thing!

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On the Road Again

Posted from near Page, AZ
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

Although we had a great time during our winter stay at Palm Creek Golf and RV in Casa Grande, AZ, we felt it was time to hit the road again.  After all, fulltiming to us is exploring new locations and learning about people and places.

So with that thought in mind we've planned half of our summer destinations thus far and have decided to tour the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona before returning to Palm Creek in the fall.

We left Palm Creek on April 23rd.  Many of the "winter crowd" had already departed and spaces are now plentiful.  Our first destination is near Page, AZ, a short drive of a bit over 300 miles, but we are in no hurry so we overnighted near Cottonwood at the Verde Valley Thousand Trails. This TT campground seems to be very popular in the winter and we attempted, on several occasions, to secure a spot via online reservations before actually securing one.  We found out that one of the reasons that a spot is hard to book is because the park still has a large number of sites "unavailable" due to the upgrading of their electrical system. Nothing special here, just one night and gone the next morning.

We've never visited the Page, AZ area, but thanks to our friends Paul and Laura they steered us toward a campground named Wahweap RV Park. To be honest, it's more expensive than we usually spend (about $48.12 per night with taxes), but we are so glad that we decided to take their advise and book here for a 6-night stay.

The campground is right on Lake Powell and the views are beautiful.

We are staying in a FHU section of the campground. There are 139 FHU sites. All of the roads are paved and in excellent condition. They are easy to maneuver by the largest MHs.

The sites are all paved with either a back-in or "loop-like" pullthru.

Our first order of business upon arriving at a new destination is to head to the local visitor's center and secure guides and information to use to plan our stay.  Being totally unfamiliar with this area, we didn't know what to expect.  After looking at brochures and maps from the NPS and doing a bit of online research, it is clear that 6 days probably will not be long enough to visit.  That's ok, because we can always return!

We headed north on Hwy. 89 from our CG and traveled to the Visitor's Center for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument located in Big Water, UT (our CG is right on the AZ-UT border). We arrived on Tuesday and it appears that we had not done enough research.  This Visitor's Center is currently closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

We do plan to return on another day, because later in the summer we'll be exploring part of this National Monument from further north in UT. Looks like a neat place from the outside.

The next planned stop today was at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center beside the Glen Canyon Dam.

The visitor center is located right off of Hwy. 89 at the dam. We later learned that Hwy. 89 was an engineering feat in itself, because prior to its' construction a journey of 200 extra miles was needed to get to the location on the other side of the Colorado River.

Tours of the Glen Canyon Dam seemed reasonable at $5 per person, so that sounded like an educational thing to do.  NOT!  I guess they saw the Fischers coming, because the elevators which transport people to the hydroelectric workings of the dam at the base were not functioning today. We'll attempt this tour again on another day.

We concluded today by taking a short hike down from the scenic overlook just below the dam. This turned out to be a great photo-op location for taking a few pictures of the entirety of the dam.

Here's a picture of the Colorado River as it continues the journey beyond Glen Canyon Dam. The canyons are gorgeous everywhere we look here.

Hopefully, a future blog will have a few more pictures of the dam itself.

We see many adventures ahead for this summer.  If we have decent internet access, I'll attempt to do a better job of making posts in a more timely manner than in the past.

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

2016 Year End Review (Belated)

4th Year of Fulltiming Summation
Posted from Casa Grande,AZ

Well, since we just finished the first quarter of 2017, I decided that it was about time that I posted our summary for 2016.

We completed our 4th year of fulltime RV living at the end of 2016. Wow, where has the time gone! We spent our winter months again at Palm Creek Golf and RV in Casa Grande, AZ.  This marks our fourth winter here and the time here flew by this year.

We decided to become annual lease holders before leaving in 2015 and signed a 2-year lease agreement for our site in the park. One of the "perks" of that initial agreement was that the park would construct a 10x12 foot shed complete with water and electric. We decided to improve the site a bit this season by adding some additional concrete and brick patio pavers to make the site a bit more "homey" feeling.

We chose to become "work campers" here at the park for the 2016-2017 winter season to help offset the costs of our improvements and to help pay for the annual lease costs. We both worked in "Special Events" here at Palm Creek. Let's just say that the job is physically demanding, but certainly we were involved in a variety of tasks throughout the season. Everything from setting up for dinners and dances to larger park-wide outdoor events.

Let me get back to reviewing the 2016 year. When we left Palm Creek in mid-April of 2016 we traveled for several weeks with our friends Paul and Laura and explored some new areas in Texas before they departed for their summer plans. We continued to the East Coast, had some work done at Red Bay, AL, saw family in Virginia, then meandered up into the northeast to attend the Escapees' National Rally in Vermont.

We had an accident with the motorhome in Burlington, VT (prior to the Escapade). After the Escapade we made a beeline back to Red Bay, AL (home of Tiffin Motorhomes) to have the coach repaired by an independent shop in that town.

Because most of our summer plans were squashed due to the accident, we hung out in Red Bay thru most of August and September visiting with different friends who happened to be there for either factory repairs or modifications being performed by third-party vendors in the area. (Hey, we actually do like Red Bay).

It just so happened that Paul and Laura showed up in September, so we started our journey back toward Arizona with them. We again split up just west of Dallas, TX and we arrived back in Casa Grande, AZ on October 3, 2016.

To view a map of our 2016 travels CLICK HERE.


I've been keeping stats concerning our travel costs since we began fulltiming. If you're interested, please feel free to take a look at the chart below and leave a comment at the end of this blog if you have any questions.

(Click to Enlarge)

During 2016 we camped in a total of 13 states and spent an average of 10.74 days in one location.

Thank you to everyone who continues to visit our blog!