Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Arizona - Sun Valley

Sun Valley

We headed to Sun Valley, AZ on October 28, 2016. 
We stayed at the Sun Valley RV Park, which is right off of I-40 but surprisingly quiet. The RV park, a few houses and a knife store are all there is in Sun Valley, which explains why the mailing address is Holbrook. It is a small park, all gravel and the sites are very tight. It was hard to walk in between our slide out and our neighbors. They do have a nice community room that is open 24-hours and the laundry room was clean. 

Across the street from the park is a big open field that was perfect for letting Mielikki run off lead, except for the morning she scared Nancy half to death when she chased a young coyote. She did come back when called, much to Nancy's relief. She also found some old bones to play with. The WiFi was spotty, the Verizon signal on our phones was weak, but our Jetpack worked okay. We paid $20.68 a night with our Passport America discount. 

The Petrified Forest National Park was just 30-miles down the road. We spent two days exploring it. The first day we drove through and stopped at all the overlooks and exhibits. The second day we went back and hiked some of the trails. This park covers 50,000 acres and includes the Painted Desert. I-40 crosses through the center of the park and while driving on it you have no idea what beauty lies just a short distance on either side. You start your journey at the Visitor Center and then follow the road through the Painted Desert with over looks along the way that offer breathtaking views. The 1-mile round trip Painted Desert Rim Trail takes you from Tawa Point to the Painted Desert Inn and gives you spectacular views.  
L-R: Toponia ~Tawa and Chinde Points 

The old Painted Desert Inn was a 
lodge and cabin complex. It is now a visitor center with historical information of the area. It was built by a C.C.C. crew and artisans between 1937-1940. Post-war revisions were made by architect Mary Jane Colter and it was operated as a Harvey House from 1947-1963. She was the chief architect and decorator for Fred Harvey Co. from 1902-1948. 
Nizhoni and Whipple Points

The original Route 66 ran through the park, the road is no longer open to the public and is now a park service road. 

The original electric poles still line a portion of the road. They have a monument to the route with a plaque and an old car. 
Once you cross under I-40 you enter the Petrified Forest and at first it doesn't seem like there is much to see but wow, are you in for a treat.

The first thing we came to is a bridge over the Santa-Fe railroad track and as we were approaching it we could see a train coming. Nancy walked out onto the bridge to take pictures. 

She was getting a video when it went under the bridge and force of the air knocked her off her feet! We always think of our son-in-law Steve when we are around trains. 

There is a walking path that takes you through Puerco Pueblo where you view ruins and petroglyphs.

 It is so interesting seeing these ruins and learning about the people who lived here. This was a 100+ room village occupied from 1250-1380 AD. The photo to the right is a Kiva, it was a large round room built into the ground, access was through a hole in the roof. It was used for special ceremonies and where the men wove the ceremonial sashes.

We loved the petroglyphs, these are some of the best we have seen. So fascinating to see them. We as people have always wanted to share our stories, we've come along way from carving into rock.

The next petroglyphs are at the Newspaper Rock overlook. Over 650 petroglyphs cover a large boulder, some as old as 2000 years, unfortunately you can only really seen them though the telescope at the overlook. Click on the link to see pictures.

After leaving Newspaper Rock you drive through what is called the Tepees. Beautiful mounds with amazing layers of color.

The Blue Messa was our favorite place. After driving through we knew we had to come back and hike the 1-mile loop trail. The trails slopes down to the floor of the badlands where you are surrounded by such immense beauty.

The colors change with the sun so every turn in the path gives you something new to see.

In spots you can see where the next layer is starting to erode and the dips in the hills are filled with petrified wood.

The fact that you can get so close is pretty exciting. Our travel companions, Captain America and his friends enjoyed the views and so did Mielikki. 

The trail is all asphalt which makes it easier, but the incline that takes you to the floor is pretty steep so going down and especially coming back up can be a challenge. While stopping for a rest on the way back up we met Sue Loos who is from Alaska and traveling to the Phoenix area for a warm winter. We had a great conversation and shared travel stories and hope to catch up with her again down the road.

The Agate Bridge is a 100-foot petrified log that crosses over a gully. At one point you could walk across the bridge, but the practice has been stopped to preserve the log.
The beauty of the petrified wood just cannot be explained and the pictures don't even really do them justice. In a few spots you can see logs popping through the dirt as the mounds erode.

We hiked the 2.6-mile, Long Log and Agate House trails. Some of the logs have cracked in almost perfect sized sections, making it look as if they were sawed into pieces. 

You can barely see Les at the end of the logs
Some of the trees, or logs are well over 100-feet long.

Every color of the rainbow and then some show up in the crystallized wood. We couldn't stop oohing and awing and pointing to a new piece we saw.
There is a section that resemble the badlands of the Blue Messa, it just pops up in the middle of the flat land you are walking along.

We loved seeing the logs that still had the bark on them. Some you can still the rings of the tree - just so cool.

The Agate House just blew us away. We thought at first that it had been built by the C.C.C. crews when the park was developed. Imagine our surprise to find out it is was built sometime between 1050 and 1300, during the Late Pueblo II-Pueblo III Periods. It is believed to have housed one family, and may have served as a gathering place for the village.

It appears to be an 8-room dwelling, large for its time. Entry was through a ladder in the roof. When it was discovered in the 1930's it was thought to be unique, but since then hundreds of similar structure sites have been found in the park.
On both of our days in the park our tour guides were Black Ravens. Nancy has had a relationship with crows and ravens for many years. They show up in the oddest places just to say Hi. Here was no exception. Every stop had at least one if not more.
As we drove one would fly just ahead of us, land in a tree or on a rock till we caught up and then fly ahead again. Yes, we know this all sounds very strange but it happens to us all time. When we set up at a new place it is not uncommon for one to land on the picnic table and crow for a few minutes.

This is one place that really needs to be seen in person, words and pictures can give you a feel for it, but just can't do it justice.

There is very little of Route 66 left in this area, even the road for the most part is gone. We did pull ourselves away from the park to explore what we could find of the old Route from Holbrook to Winslow.
Holbrook and the surrounding area is known for their Trading Posts. The stores have Indian artwork, along with numerous other items and the yards are filled with petrified wood and numerous dinosaurs. Stewart's was the craziest.
We found ourselves standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ. There is a small park commemorating the song "Take it Easy", written by Jackson Browne (one of Nancy's favorite artists) and Glen Frey, and one of the Eagles most popular songs. Muralist, John Pugh and sculptor, Ron Adamson created the space. The mural even has an eagle in the upper left window. The statue was put in place in September and is a likeness of Glen Frey who passed away earlier this year.

Our drive back to camp one night gave us another beautiful sunset and a Halloween chuckle from the Road Commission.

Next up is Phoenix and a week with family.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
- There is more than one way to clean a toilet.
Well, actually we were cleaning the holding tank, but by the time we were done with the spray hose, the whole bathroom was clean!
This handy gadget is a flexible hose that has a multi-spray nozzle on the end. So when you place it down in the holding tank (it is important to get it all the way down before you  turn the water on) the water sprays all the walls of the tank.
 For obvious reasons this is a good idea and for us we hoped to get the water level meter working so we would know when the tank is full or empty.
Our meter has been stuck, and it seems more than one cleaning is gonna be needed. Even after the meter is working we will continue to do this regularly just to keep things tidy.
We attached the wand to our outside hose and brought it through the window directly across from the bathroom. We would suggest laying a towel done to catch any drips - something we thought of afterwards!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New Mexico - Albuquerque


October 23, 2016 we moved to the Enchanted Trails RV Park, in Albuquerque, NM. Once again we were right on Route 66. The park has about 100 sites, some permanent but kept up very well. 
The entire place is gravel and the sites were pretty tight. They have a Trading Post store, a TV room and a game room with a pool table, arcade games and board games to play. The laundry room and bathrooms were very clean. 

Wifi was not great but our Verizon signal was strong. We were just off of I-40 but the road noise was minimal. 
They have four vintage trailers that you can rent out for the night or week. Three are set up with a little court yard in the center. Very cool idea. We paid $20 a night with a combination of our Passport America and Good Sam discounts.

Albuquerque is a large bustling city. Route 66 which is Central Ave runs from one end of town to the other. There are a number of hotels and buildings left from back in the day.
The DeAnza Motor Lodge was one of only a few of the nearly 100 motels that opened it's doors for black travelers. It was a popular stop for artists and traders. The onsite diner had thousands of pieces of turquoise embedded in the floor. The building sat empty for years. The city bought it in 2003 and it is now being converted in a condo/hotel property. 
We left Mielikki home and wandered the Nob Hill District. This area has New Mexico's first drive-in shopping center, built in 1947. The 15 block area is filled with stores, restaurants, motels and coffee shops. Being just off campus of the University of New Mexico has helped to keep this area alive. 

A number of the old gas stations now house other businesses. One is Kelly's Brew Pub, where we had lunch. It is an old Texaco Station, food was good and so was the beer. 

The Kimo Theatre was built in the early 20's and was considered one of the most unique at the time. There are a number of murals and sculptures throughout town. 

We loved the idea of the Empire Board Game Library, you pick a game, pick a table, order your food and drinks and then have fun!
We drove through town after dark to see all the neon. 

  As you head west out of town you drive up a hill and the view from there at night was amazing.

We headed back to Santa Fe from this stop. We took the "Turquoise Trail", which is Hwy 14. Named for all of the turquoise mines that were once along this road. Just before you get to Hwy 14 on Route 66 there is a stretch of road that plays music. National Geographic put rumble strips on the edge of the road. You have to drive 45 mph with your right tires running over the strips and you can here a snippet of the Star Spangled Banner. It was so cool, we turned around and drove it twice. We tried videoing it but it is hard to hear the music over the road noise. 

A stop at the Tinkertown Museum was a must. It is quite impressive. Each room is filled with miniature displays. Ross Ward carved all the figures and built the scenes. There is so much in each display it is hard to take it all in. 

Circus ~~~ Doll House ~~~ Hotel 
There a number of moving displays that play music or the sculptures dance or move and old fortune teller machines.

The graveyard display even has Alfred Hitchcock in it. 

The hallways are lined with posters, paintings and license plates from all over. The walls are glass bottles of all shapes, sizes and colors. The cement floors have horse shoes in them. 
There are quotes and sayings throughout the museum. We liked the one about watching TV - today you could insert Facebook! 
Makes ya wonder how much you could get done - a problem Nancy thinks about a lot but it doesn't change her habits.
One display was a reminder of home. Big Louie was 8'4" tall and was born in Hancock, MI in 1887. They have a pair of pants and his size 22 shoes on display, Nancy could put both feet in one shoe. 
Next stop was in Madrid. It is an artist enclave and Nancy could have spent hours there, or maybe years. The whole town is artist studios and galleries. One had a zebra on it's roof, yes Nancy wants one, or maybe a giraffe. One artist has created a photo board park - all different kinds of photo opps to choose from. 

Once in Santa Fe we stopped at a few shops we missed the first time around and found some roadside oddities and the Loretto Chapel. Inside the chapel is a curved stairway but we got there too late to get in. The outside was worth stopping for. 

The roadside oddities were a large spider, a wolf and a towering robot.

Heading west out of town we traveled to Gallop.
Along the way we made a stop at Nine Mile Hill, where you get a great view of the surrounding mountains and the valley. The Rio Puerco Bridge, built in 1933 is 250-feet long, one of the longest in New Mexico. 

It is now closed to traffic but you can park and walk across it. After seeing the buckles in the road we know why it is closed.

Route 66 in this area takes you through some beautiful landscape and some very twisty curves. One rather sharp curve around a rock mound is called Dead Mans Curve - and for a good reason. 

The San Jose de la Laguna Mission Church in Laguna was built in 1701. You will also find Pueblo ruins here, these are said to be some of the best ruins in the area.

An abandoned 1920's Gas Station is the only thing left in Budville

While driving through San Fidel the view of the mountains and the fall colored trees was hard to resist. 

The Santa Maria de Acoma Church built in 1933 sits on a hillside in McCarty. The view from there was beautiful, they have benches along the edge of their parking lot so you can sit and enjoy it. 
Just past the church you start to see lava rocks along side the road. It is part of the Zuni-Bandera Volcanic Field. This section is the youngest lava flow, at just 3,000-years old and is one of the youngest in the 48 contiguous United States. It was strange seeing so much volcanic rock in this area. 
While we were stopped for pictures a horse came galloping from behind the mound and ran right up to the fence. Moments later a second horse joined him, and then a third horse walked slowly towards us and then stopped. It was pretty cute to see. 

Grants was the next stop. 
There were a number of motel and cafe signs. We stopped for breakfast at 1st Street Cafe. They have the biggest pancakes we have ever seen, even Les couldn't eat it all. 

Just outside of Grants we crossed the Continental Divide. This is the second highest point on the route at 7,263-feet. 
There is also a salvage yard with a sense of humor, or lack of storage space. 

Gallop is called the "Indian Capitol of the World". There are so many stores and trading posts we lost count. We wandered in and out of all of them and had fun looking at all of the trinkets. Living in 400-square feet has curbed any desire to own them but they are fun to look at. Nancy did add to her collection of beads and charms at the bead store. 
Highway 666, runs north out Gallop, one has to wonder if there is a higher number of accidents on that road. 
We found some roadside oddities, large pottery on the sidewalks. 

A giant Kachina, a Mufflerman that seems to be missing his muffler, and a stature of a Navajo Code Talker

There is a fun sculpture called Galoop that looks like a giant hot wheels track. 

The Babe Ruth Park is filled with incredible metal statues. A half circle metal wall that has cut-outs of people on it is called "We The People", surrounds the other sculptures. There is a grouping of what appears to be a lecture taking place and a dreaming cowboy and mermaid. 

There was of course the usual Route 66 motel signs as well. The Blue Spruce was different than most. 

The El Rancho Hotel was opened in the late 1930's and quickly became a popular spot for Hollywood's A-list. Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne and Kirk Douglas are just a few who stayed here. 

Next stop is Sun Valley, AZ. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You! 

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Before you head to your next location it is best to check the area for grocery stores, easy to do on Google Maps. At our last stop we were a block away from a grocery store and didn't shop before pulling out. Set up at the next place only to discover we needed the basics, bread, milk etc and the closest grocery store was over 20 miles away. Lesson learned.