Starkville, CO

National Forest slogan "Land of Many Uses" FRIDAY OCTOBER 23rd, very mild and clear skies. Early cereal bfast and coffee then left Trinidad in the dark at 6.15am Crossed into New Mexico at 6.38am in the dark! Over Raton Pass sign tells us 113 miles to Las Vegas. But tricking as thus one is in New Mexico (NM). Stewy tried to run down a flock of turkeys, about 20 odd, on the road to Folsom.frost visible on ground now coming light. Lots of scrubby autumn color as winding up the road. Earth shadow at sunrise great effects on snowy peaks in Colorado. Lots of Mule deer hopping across the road like our kangaroos. Actually Johnson Mesa.. Landscape reminds us of Ballarat surrounding district.heavily grassed with cows grazing. Very black, lava evidence in soil. Interesting rock fence posts instead of strainer posts. A nice. Prong horn antelope posed for us roadside. Heavily forested coming down off Mesa, winding around looking over landscape of small mountains or large hills to west.Folsom is definitely a town of the past, pretty sad sights of decaying commercial buildings and unloved housing except for about 3 places, apparently a huge flood decimated it many years ago and it never survived. Capulin (Ka-puh-Lin") very small town. Visited Tourist Centre in Raton and got lots of information to supplement shay our hunter friend Ohil had suggested. Heading for Quests. Passed NRA Whittington Centre, impressive building? Prairie like terrain with mesas and small mountains scattered around. Big herd of bison on straight stretch of road beautiful cumulus type clouds spread across entire skyline with beautiful blue sky. Cimarron where the Rockies meet the plain. Through Cimarron, stopped roadside for lunch. Soon entered very heavy timbered winding road following creek around, opened into valley with autumn color with green pines following creek. Granite formations known as palisades. Cimarronn Canyon State Park, very pretty drive. Eagle Nest Dam & Village geared around water or snow activities and a sawmill w with large snow covered mountain backdrops around. The Cimarron River renown for trouble fishing. Bobcat Pass 9118ft. Pretty little ski village on side entered Carson NF where we had hoped to camp, but too cold for vehicle. We are in Southern Rockies. Very steep downhill out of snow, pretty though into Red River a popular ski village. A HUGE mine of some sort, with 2 long conveyor type chutes coming down to a processing plant, but no name identifying it? SCS on a vehicle. Sign at other end Questa, Chevron. Camped in Carson National Forest right on the river, pretty sight and constant water flowing. Very interesting geological sandstone canyon walls about 200ft high. With forest interspersed. SATURDAY OCTOBER 24th, calm and dry, mild. Late bfast in bed, Jaffle cook on duty with egg! Drove toward Questa, diverted to see Lake Calibresta but ended up in the Carson NF and didn't find the lake! A small town with Mexican influence but few resources. Then on out to Rio Grande National Monument. Looked at several viewing spots then checked the El Aguaje CG (already paid $7 at entrance). Then went for drive to check out more places. Next stop was La Junta Overlook, took in the view then had a snack and walked down into the gorge, 1.2 miles each way and 800 vertical feet, where the two rivers meet, I.e. Red River and Rio Grande. Met 3 Aussie boys on the trail who were camping there so we set up camp. Ranger came and told us we shouldn't camp here, but eventually between us all, we convinced them we would be out of the way early. Volunteer Camp Hosts, Very nice people, Denis & Jan Carey, who gave us their contact numbers as they had spent 8 months in Australia and loved it. Invited us down to stay with them at their Phoenix home (they have one in Colorado also fir summer use). Spent the evening with the boys, made a fire and they cooked their ribs on the BBQ, Which were by all reports yummy. We had our pasta ready. The boys had bought some cheap guns that used BB's so having fun with targets, ie beer cans and water bottles. We both had a go, I was useless of course! They plan to trash the guns before they leave, but they were amazed they were purchased in toy department about $25 each, one rifle and one hand gun! Fun night. SUNDAY OCTOBER 25th, ice on Lance & Larry, but cosy inside, sun up early and cloudless sky. Boys off earlier than us, we had relaxing morning, shower, tidying up then off to Taos. Still enjoying snow covered mountain views with autumn splendour around. Crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge started in Sept 1965 and opened in July 1968. A very impressive structure, spanning a gorge 625ft,neither abutments resting on natural ledges about 200 ft approximately. Then into Taos and to the historic Pueblo village. Camped at Walmart as trying to find a Walmart Service Centre as recommended by Dennis, and too late to move out of town. MONDAY, OCTOBER 26th, fine but cloudy with some sunshine, mild. NM CG $7 per night. Bad nights sleep for Pammy, not sure why! Off to Penny ....Laundry, prepared and ate breakfast whilst washing and drying. Headed off to next stop st Rio grande National Monument Visitors Centre on highway before turnoff to CG's, so we called in to check it out. No real new information having already visited the other side of the NM area. However, we feel fortunate to have met an Aussie/NZ couple (Katherine & Nigel Morris) who were on a final holiday trip around USA after Nigel had finished his 'Tour of Duty in Washington DC" with the Australian Embassy. They will return to Aus prior to Christmas. We chatted for a long time about our mutual interests of travel in U.S. and their proposed travel in Aus, we plan to share blogs and stay in touch. They may visit us in January. Pilar was the small community near turnoff and the first CG, but we decided to check the others pit first. Whilst driving found the U.S. Geological Survey Gaging Station on Rio Grande just past campgrounds. We settled for Ayo Zhoto CG as it was up higher and looked down over the river, toilets, no showers or shelters as others had. The view and ambience won us. We prepared our BBQ fire and cooked our marinated pork roast with assorted vegies and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the might Rio Grande, even though we were not in a huge gorge like where the bridge and other areas we had visited. Quiet evening in pleasant temp. TUESDAY OCTOBER 27th, frosty outside, cosy inside! Sun up around 8.30 with some clouds. Wind increased during morning. Decided to spend another day in natural surroundings, listening to the Rio a grande rushing by! NM CG $7 per night. Very pleasant bfast in bed! Relaxing morning reading. Stewy then dud a few minor maintenance jobs. WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 28th, calm morning, cloudy, chilly about 40deg. Off South to Espanola for oil change. Shopped in local Supermarket next door whilst completed. Met a very attractive young girl (Deanna) from Arequipa in Peru, who recognised my Tee Shirt with Peruvian symbol, she was very excited to know we had visited her home town. Then down to BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT. We booked in to Juniper CG $12 / night, at 6600ft, then went to Visitors Centre. Completed first walk taking in the Big Kiva, The Tyuonyi Village remains, hillside cliff Dwellings - Long House and Talus House and stopped at the Tyuonyi Overlook to appreciate the Frijoles Canyon cut out by Frijole Creek, which obviously suffers greatly during floods. A major one in 2011 and another this past Summer, as evidenced from the huge amount of debris, in particular large and small trees along with earth movements. Sand bags still in place around Visitors Centre which U.S. Built in Pueblan style. Cooked BBQ on small gas one as too cold to light fire and sit around outside too long. Cosy inside, studying maps and literature after dinner. Calm night. THURSDAY OCTOBER 29th, calm morning, sun up around 7.30am but cloudy. Bfast from chef, Sanitary Empty and water refill before leaving CG. Back to Visitors Centre to complete walk to Falls and Alcove House. Easy walks, interesting geology. Alcove House is 140ft from ground, accessed by 4 ladders made if natural tree branches but very easy to climb. At the top a large open area with a Kiva (which was locked off from public) similar to Mea Verde. Saw some Aberts Squirrels with their long grey and white tails happily Performing in the forest for us. Very cute. Watched movie on the area in Centre then off. Down to Los Alamos to find a spot to stay. However we inadvertently took the road which is a U.S. Secure Road for the Los Alamos National Energy Laboratories which is used by badge holders to access the many Laboratories along the way. History of the area is that Los Alamos was the laboratory where the Atomic Bomb was developed with the help of Mr Oppenheimer. However we had to show Drivers Licence and they passed us through. Sadly when we decided to go back to BANDELIER our GPS took us on the same road. The guard was going to check our Camper until his boss told him not to bother! We asked instructions for an easier way back into town for tomorrow. Buses wear a logo "Atomic City Transport". Found our camping spot accidentally in the National Forest on our way to see Valles Caldera, but getting dark so will see tomorrow as rain and cloud setting in not good for viewing.m FRIDAY OCTOBER 29th, drizzly all morning First visit to Las Alamos Museum, however currently closed for updating of original facilities so came across the Arts Centre which had a great collection of all types of artworks, excluding weaving. Bought a small pottery piece. Then over to temporary museum to check out Manhattan Project info. Great personal attention, fascinating facts about Atom Bomb research and building at National Science facilities in Los Alamos. Then walked on further down pleasant street, albeit in the rain to the Bradbury National Science Museum. Fantastic place, even though not huge well laid out with heals of information and a great movie of the background on Manhattan Project. They were busy setting up for Halloween Party, commencing about 4.30 through to 6.30pm for celebrations centred around children and families. When walking around town, noticed, once cloud disappeared, that the mountains above had some snow still on them mid afternoon( (probably near our campsite). A great combination of science functions and Halloween activities. Used their wifi to update our posts on Facebook and talked to Kathy & Jill on FaceTime seeing how they were actually preparing for a Halloween celebration at Kathys. She was do inspired by Olsen's Bartlesville, Oklahoma preparations she decided to spread the word and celebrate. Nice quote heard at the Museum when he was told they were preparing for Halloween celebrations (he was from Wyoming and had been there the day before) " you guys should learn how to have a good time!" It is true,the Yanks know how to have an excuse and use it. Sadly, I don't think we Aussies have quite got it yet, other than for Sporting functions! After a full day of interest,drove Back to camp in Santa Fe Forest but drove past our spot to see if we could get to the Valles Caldera before dark, but not so returned to our site after reaching 9031ft to our own camp site at 8150ft. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30th. Sunny morning but still chilly, 42deg . As we drove on in the sunshine the higher we went the cooler it got until 32deg/0C with frost in abundance everywhere. The trees and plants were dripping in icicles, very picturesque. Entered Valles Grande which encapsulates Valles Calderas. Chatted with Rangers fir sometime, learnt they had a lot of Obsidian rock in the area. Stewy noted the best samples he had ever seen. Rodondo and Rodondito were later calderas within the main one. Did a couple of mile walk around to view different aspects in brilliant sunshine. We passed a number of popular at railheads, e.g. East Fork National Trailhead, Las Conchas Trailhead as seems a popular fushing and recreation area. Stopped off to view San Diego Canyon Overlook, but only saw forest and road far below. More fishing recreation spots as we follow the Jemez river around and wind our way down the mountains. Stopped at Battleship Rock for photo and lunch. More cottonwoods and oaks showing off their autumn colors. Stopped off in Jemez Springs a very small village took a photo then off. Diverted off Hwy to see the Gillman Tunnels. Well worth it, the mesas and colors reminiscent of Monument Valley. A narrow road lead around to these two tunnels that were blasted out of solid basalt in the 1920's for a rail tunnel to haul logs from the forest. The road now follows the Guadalope River around and through the Canyon of same name. Very picturesque and made a great quiet camp spot above the river. Halloween celebrations were far away from us, except some people, seemed like young families, camping back along the river who had pumpkins etc around the entrance! SUNDAY NOVEMBER 1st, sunny morning but chilly. Off 485 back onto Hwy 4, then down Onto Sth 550 heading to Albuquerque Still travelling through the Jemez Valley and into Jemez Reservation. We visited the Walatowa Visitors Centre and gained more interesting information. Jemez Creek in foreground of mesas with a kaleidoscope of colors. The whole of the Jemez Valley is surrounded by huge colourful mesas. Through Bernalillo a reasonable size City. Diverted to see Petraglyph NM before arriving in Albuquerque. Spoke to Glenys who called us then Kendra and Kathy beiore venturing into Old Town for a quick look then finding our Walmart camping spot. All good, a bit of necessary shopping, prepared and cooked curry for another night and had fish for dinner. Made more Messenger calls And rang Randy & Clarice for update, then Wayne to organise visit when back in LA. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd, woke to sunshine about 40 deg. Route 66 goes through main part of City! First visit to Tourist Info in the cute "Old Town" section. Good advice and a nice self tour around the centre of the original Mall like town. A 300 yr old Spanish Catholic Church, San Felipe de Neri, the centre piece. Built very much in Spanish/European style. Then out to Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Aquarium and Zoo. Spoke with Kendra during visit, they are suffering the loss of Tai very badly, but not unexpectedly, they love their animals so much! Felt helpless. Different layout to other gardens I have seen. At the entrance is a fantastic children's Garden built like an adventure cave with a huge dragon at the entrance with water features. Attached to that is the "Rio Grande Garden Railway", which is a member of the American Garden Railroads with a gauge of 1.75", scale 1 ft = 22.5ft. It runs around through a huge section of gardens, over bridges (including models of Rio Grande Gorge Bridge) working water wheel etc etc. a fantastic display which is apparently one of many originating in the UK. A new Bugarium opened yesterday which is still being finalised, but fantastic displays and critters. Lots of Tarantulas from different places, very educational kids would love it , especially Kaiden. We then went to Nob Hill Camera Shop to buy a couple of filters and a lead to attach the lens cover to. Past The University of NMexico, impressive buildings built in Pueblan Adobe style. As it was then 4 and we had had a nice chat to Judy E on Messenger, we went up to Sandia Peak Tram to ride it up to the top to learn that it had closed for seasonal maintenance yesterday! We waited 20 mins for the Restaurant/Bar to open and impatiently left, sadly the great overvview of the City was very misty . Drove 20 odd miles to go the back of the mountain and crossed the section of "Singing Road" that is the ripple strip on the edge of he road that plays "America the Great"! Up to the peak to look over the city, and possibly see the lights as the earth shadow would have disappeared by then. As the pink contrast and the nightly dark blue contrast was looking spectacular from the road but nowhere to stop to capture the view. 3/4 way up a car had slipped off the road on the ice which was right across the road, we had noticed snow on hillside increasing, but this was a surprise when we turned the corner. Most cars took it very easy going down the mountain, deer popped up a couple of times, their roadside habits remind us of kangaroos. Found another Walmart which had at least 6 campers already! Talked to Leanne & Jim, curry for dinner then quiet book reading. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3rd, sunny morning again, very mild night in fact too hot early in night. Up early after chef cooked bfast and on the road into Museums before 9 to find that we stopped in peak hour traffic on fantastic interchange for about 5 mins. First stop Museum of Art & History which had a special display from The original Nadelman Collection. He was a wood sculptor of renown then married a wealthy woman and she concentrated on expanding the collection he had started. They fell on hard times due to the economic climate in U.S. and eventually sold it to New York Public Gallery. Interesting Criss section of historical and arty displays. Then coffee break to move Larry & Lance. Next Museum of Natural History & Science which was so comprehensive with 2 of the Volunteers who seemed to take a shine to us. It covered physical geology incorporating creation of the solar system, stages of development of the earth, creation and evolution of life, including fantastic models of volcanism, Paleontology, mineralogy etc. with high quality presentation and descriptions. Space exploration, including a scale model of "The Mars Rover" and the involvement of Bill Gates in Albuquerque in his early days. We spent at least 4-1/2hrs there not leaving until 4.50pm. On return home to Walmart CG a Pisco Sour Cocktail was created as reward for concentrating so long! Dinner and usual! WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 4th, 2015, slight wind and sunshine, even though cloudy. After receiving advice from Kathleen in Flagstaff AZ about rain and snow that heads straight across to NM. We decided given Santa Fe is much higher, that we would drive up for a day trip and back to Albuquerque. Left about 9.30am out to Famous Turquoise Trail along Hwy14. Boring terrain until we got to Madrid (pronounced Ma-drid) which is a very old mining village that has been reinvented by artists. Very interesting old buildings and lots of high quality artwork of every imaginable type. Cerillos another derelict mining town in not such good shape! As we got closer to Santa Fe it started to pour and fortunately it stopped once we were close to the centre. We visited the Loretto Chapel with the famous staircase. Story goes that they were praying fir funds to build it and an unknown carpenter arrived at their door offered to build it with minimum tools and supplying the wood. It is circular and has no visible means of support. Beautiful little chapel with great stained glass windows including a large rose window at the rear. The large property was sold sometime ago and it was agreed to keep the Chapel, which is still attached to the great Adobe Pueblo style Inn called Loretto. Shopping arcade etc and the whole area is very appealing as all kept in original style and the whole centre of town is, as usual around a nice square. St Franciis of Assissi Basilica a beautiful medium church decorated in an unusual style, Corinthian pillars painted in a style reminiscent of Turkish Mosques etc. all the shops that we browsed through were overflowing with fantastic pottery, glassware, paintings, weavings etc. an enjoyable afternoon in spite of the weather. Talking to Kendra on Messenger, she had news, and I realised that it was already her birthday at home. She sent photos of the on site van they are looking at, on the river at Moama. Looks great And they are very excited. Few weeks before they get up there, as having new concrete poured around the pool this weekend. She was having s good birthday and had a new fridge to show for it. THURSDAY NOVEMBER 5th, dull but dry morning, very cold wind off the snow from mountains! Bfast, shopping and then off. Stopped off for fuel and RV Dump at ConocoPhillips/Giant. Heading out Hwy 550, flat desert like terrain. Passing many historic Pueblan sites. Mountains and mesas surround, some colourful interesting formations including great cloud patterns, storm ones encroa jpg I snow like with Clear blue sky in between. Snow covered Mesa to the N/Nth East as we travel N/nth West and as we looked South the Sandia Mountains near ABQ ere in sunshine. Extremely strong wind buffeted us considerably. Spectacular high mesas either side with stunning colors varying with green plants offering contrast. About 20 miles before Cuba temp dropped to 37snow started encroaching al around us roadside. Cows grazing in snow. Elevation 6548ft. Cuba 6995ft all covered in snow. 7000ft as leaving small town.Crossed Continental Divide 7380f. Passed the Apache Nugget Casino in the middle if nowhere! Roadside out Andreas to keep us warm and sustained! Just after town called Counselors a tanker had gone off road and jack knifed I to bank. More emergency vehicles than we could club. It headed Bly a few miles past the Western Refining art of Williams Lybrook Refinery. Back up to 7000 ft so many more picturesque mesas surround us all appear to be dripping with snow like iced cakes - gorgeous. Took turn off to Chaca CANYON 7950, 21 miles to Sth. East. Road bitumen for first 10 miles then skirt deteriorating, sign saying not "maintained by local San Juan County". Taking it slowly as a little rough, crossed a cement fjord like wash area, then arrived at a very muddy chopped up section, going down hill. Already committed so ploughed through slowly then back on firm. Arrived at Chaca Culture a National Park formal area. Visitors Centre to pay camp fees and get info. Told that weather forecast was dry for next 4 dats and road should dry out, Chose camp site and then decided to go for a drive to get some sunset pictures - great. Dinner and bed - cold outside but cissy in Lance. FRIDAY NOVEMBER 6th, ice around but sun out by 9 clear skies. Bfast, Ranger guided tour of Pueblo Bonito on the North side of the canyon is one of the largest of its type having over 150 rooms and many large and small Kivas which are round with many similar features across differing Pueblan communities. Built over a 300 year period the building styles show the different periods. It was first excavated in 1800's then more professionally completed by a National Geographic and Smithsonian group in the 1920's. A massive rock collapse from the wall behind crushed a section of the back wall in 1941. There is another section of the same rock wall up further that will split off at some time in the future, but not risking the structure Casa Rinconada tour in afternoon. Our guide G.B. Pointed out that a lot of what he presents is deduction that varies between experts. This is on the south side of the canyon where many small dwellings were situated. The main Kiva or Big House here was excavated in 1940's and small parts rebuilt. A fantastic story about the Solstace and Equinox and how the building displays its placement to reflect this, is amazing. Access and egress are aligned perfectly North/South and perfectly align with "New Alto" a cliff top dwelling about .75 mile to the North and at the Equinox the rising of the sun shines through a window and reflects on a predetermined niche on the opposite wall. This Astronomy/solar feature is apparently quite common in Chicoan architecture and lifestyle. Mind boggling! SATURDAY NOVEMBER 7th, 2015, 20deg around 7.30am, clear and frosty. Met Jim and Cassandra at Visitors Centre. Went straight down to Trail end to walk up to Pueblo Alta & New Alta about 3.2 miles in brilliant sunshine. A great climb up through a narrow cleft and a long walk up and out to an Overlook with a great view across Pueblo Bonita. Chetro Kettle Pueblo was at the base and it was quite different to others. Lunch at Visitor Centre table I. Sun. Then walked out Una Vida with Jim and climbed up to see the Petraglyphs. Best examples we had seen here in the States. While standing in the size of the Mesa Kathy called on Viber, Great reception, had a good chat then called Kendra to ensure all well. Back to camp site for a read before dinner. Off to Observatory for talk and celestial body viewing through the 25" Dobsonian Telescope. Saw some great bodies including Ring Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, Globular clusters and double binary stars. Jim came back to Lance to show us his photos. We were very impressed with the quality and the subjects - awesome. Late to bed. SUNDAY NOVEMBER 8th, chilly but clear sky and then sunny. Cassandra joined us for coffee and we had a great long chat about everything. But mainly travels. Left at 9.15am on 7900 then on 7950 and onto 550. De-na-zinn Wilderness turnoff 7500 or 7023? Oil derricks right across this sandy road, which shows evidence of the same sloppy condition as going into Chaco, a number of wold horses. Badlands areas looking very black one side and whitish/grey the other. Stopped in at the De-Na-Zin/Bisti Wilderness viewing area and walked in to take some photos of geological formations, as mentioned before but with red and black bands. Out to 371 and out to Bisti area which was covered in large expanses of wash area surrounded by Badland type formations of varying sizes and shapes. Short walk then lunch and out. As we approached Farmington it was obvious. Why it was named such, well irrigated crops by boom sprayers (wheat type) . round ball like tanks on high structures, unknown? Colorado snow capped mountains in distance to North. Noticed sign directing tonBHP Navajo Mine as entering outskirts of Farmington? Coming down off large Mesa type structures and crossed San Juan and Animas Rivers, quite large here. After Brief shopping and fuel off through Shiprock. Entered Navajo country again,mStopped to photograph Shiprock but very hazy and we found a much better view from much further away, when it actually started to look like a battleship with a flat deck either end, but nowhere to stop. Up 491 right onto 41 then on to 162 and through Aneth & Montezuma Creek small Navajo towns. Up on to a plateau at 5252 with canyon off to left. 2 large snow capped mountains were in front of us for some time, namely Mt Peale and Mt Tomasaki. Long straight road first town White Mesa. On W55.Passed through a fantastic cutting about 150 ft high and 3 lanes wide on, most impressive, on exiting road lead into a valley then back up again. An awesome colourful banded Mesa continued around ** over Pass 7110ft. We kept driving on to reach our goal and arrived at Natural Bridges about 6.30pm in pitch dark. Found a great site CG. MONDAY, woke to no ice and milder than Chaco. Found Jim in the morning and then went to Visitor Centre to check out the scene. Then went walking down first into Owachamo Natural Bridge and spent the morning exploring - beautiful with no others to share with. After lunch down into Kachina (Hopi dolls) Natural Bridge which was much larger and offered beautiful walks and sights. Found Pictographs and Pectroglyphs of considerable quality. A great day. We returned to our CG and lit our BBQ fire and read our books whilst it was warning to cook. Successfully cooked potatoes in foil and chicken drumsticks with our coleslaw etc. Jim visited us after dinner when he had finished photographing the star through Owachamo Bridge. TUESDAY, 10th, mild morning 30deg no ice.n Left CG with Jim around 8 to go down into Sipapoo Bridge and hike tonHorse Collar ruins Following White Canyon around, RAIN STARTED ABOUT 20 miles before White Canyon crossing on bridge awesome sight as recommended by Jim. This Crossed Colorado River and Dirty Devil river, much smaller. Coffee at roadside/camp site overlooking, when water level up, Lake Powell. Jim found us here, then we travelled on together. Next stop to view, what was, when water up, of Lake Powell from official overview point which showed clearly the unserviceable boat ramp now at low water normally at Hite village site used for water sports. Drove through this fantastic red rock canyon area for 10-15 miles with such varied formations. Then out onto a flat plane area surrounded on the Sth West by lots of interesting mesas and some huge snow covered mountains (Henry Mountains) in the background. Rain cleared and sun shining in the distance on more mesas. Noticed some cattle grazing. Changed into dune like country with minimal vegetation. Jim stopped in Hanksville for gas, then we crossed Fremont River. More interesting formations as we left small town. More huge Mesas of differing colors to either side of road. Sandstone cliffs some 300 ft high. Giles historic town site passed. Factory Butte on right, quite impressive. Small fertile river valley. Drove through the original site of Fruita which was renowned for its orchards, which are still visible although not commercially productive. Approaching Capitol Reef N.P. the terrain was changing and the closer it was the more beautiful it became. Very high red rock cliffs (1000!ft) towering over and around us, the cottonwood trees were glowing bright yellow and some remaining lime green leaves offering spectacular contrasts with the red rocks Sulphur Creek and Fremont river. On arrival at CG we found it nestled into the old scene of an original property with a huge old barn for horses and an original home, lots of green grass and some orchards and a new type of tree Balsam which has fernlike leaves changing color. We shared a site with Jim, and within 15 mins it started snowing, snowflakes fluttering down, with mule deer grazing in the CG very pretty. A pleasant evening in the warmth of Lance eating dinner with Jim and relaxing evening. Very windy all night but dry. WEDNESDAY 11th, wind died down but still around 30 Sulphur Creek flowing well, view of snow covered Thousand Lake Mountain behind Visitirs Centre, which incidentally was closed as it is Veterans Day a Public Holiday. First stop photo of 'The Castle' a sight commonly used to advertise Capitol Reef, glowing in the morning sunshine with the cottonwoods contrasting at the base. The largest Petraglyph drawings of 'solace like' people amongst many other smaller animal drawings. In 1952 a rock section slabbed off which had more Petraglyphs adjoining those visible. The wind bitterly cold temperature reading in Larry 39deg F. Walked down and up to Hickman Bridge a natural bridge similar to Natural bridges. Clear views from lots angles of Capitol Dome and Pectols Pyramid. Navajo dome (ice cream cone). After lunch we drove out to Rim Rock to enjoy the colourful rock scenes and purchased diesel ready for trip tomorrow. Photo opportunity for us at Capitol Reef NP sign with Henry Mountains covered in snow and beautiful red rock everywhere. Shina rump formation above Chimney Rock (Moenkopi - fossilised.) Panorama Point allowed us the opportunity to take some spectacular photos, about 190deg view, which did not convey how cold the wind was even though it was still reading at 49Deg C. milepost 26 to Jims camp spot. Milepost 15 to Bryce turn off. Drove into Capitol Gorge, with spectacular red cliff and Mesa views all along. Narrow and very deep at the end. It used to be the main road back to Hanksville but had to be closed so often due to flooding and water damage but closed at narrowest part of gorge and used as a walking trail. Back to camp for BBQ dinner, then quiet night inside in warm. Sadly when downloading photos found that the main SD Card could not read our photos - over 900 shots. We therefore decided to stay another night to capture photos of Capitol Reef with Jim. We hope to get some from Jim of our times at Chaco Canyon and Natural Bridges. THURSDAY 12th NOVEMBER 24 24 deg but no wind and sunshine Bfast, shower then off to Visitors Centre (it was closed yesterday as it was Veteran's Day). Great relief map of whole park with lots of descriptive posters explaining the geology of Capitol a Reef. Then back out to hike to Hickmans Bridge for repeat photo session. Dropped in to Petraglyph site then back for lunch. Stewy read his book while I went for a walk along the Ferment River in the CG, watching and photographing Mule Deer. Then Jim and I walked up into Cohab Canyon. The place Mormon men would hide from the Law because of their multiple wives. The views were great and the sun was warm out of the wind. We then took the Panoramic drive again to photograph what we lost yesterday but an added bonus of sundown glow. Escaped from cold back to cook dinner. Jim came in after and we copied some of his photos from Chaco Canyon and Natural Bridges that we have lost.we are hopeful that some camera/computer expert will be able to retrieve them. FRIDAY NOVEMBER 13th fresh but dry and sunny 24 deg early Left around 9.30, Jim went his way returning to L.A. We headed for Boulder in the sunshine, turned on to Scenic Byway 12 at Broken Spur/Torrey, very small place not worthy to be on the map! Through Dixie National Forest as climbing into mountains, snow on ground roadside glistening in sun . Larb Hollow scenic overlook at 8710ft. Sadly such wide angle not very much to achieve on camera. The views prior had been more photo worthy and breathtaking. Passed Lowen Bown's Reservoir which we viewed from top. We have only learnt that there was no snow on the highways in the past as they snow plough early in the morning! However did encounter patches of ice on sections of the road that remained in shade. Summit 9600 ft on Mt Boulder, snow covered bare trees and sights back to Henry Mountains. Scenic viewpoint overlooking Escalante, the view in Fall when Aspens and Gambel oaks hVe leaves would be magnificent. Aspens over 8000ft. Passed Garkane POwer Plant turn off but not visible, in Boulder town limits. Cows grazing on flat area, lots of green grass below tree line of Dixie NF. Boulder a collection of massive sandstone mesas similar to Natural Bridges area. Driving through Escalante Grand Staircase NM but not enough time to stop, as it demands lengthy hikes to view properly. 14% grade down along a ridge line with great views either side, with the Henry a mountains still clearly visible in the background to the east.crosse d Escalante River. Stopped at the top viewing point overlooking the River winding through the beautiful colourful sandstone canyon and had lunch in the sunshine. Passed through Escalante small town with noticeably different styles of brick 2 storey housing, particularly older ones. On Summit 7600ft photographed the Kaiparowits area of Escalante photo board explaining the area, then going down thick snow encrusted mounds of varying heights. Across a valley bordered by interesting sandstone formations of grey, yellow, white in varying shades. Black faced sheep herd spotted in small town paddock as passing through Henryville , also cows grazing on irrigated paddock. 19 miles before Bryce. Nice horses in Canonville with Paria River. Which looked like very productive farmland. Turn off to Kodachrome State Park here.Tropic, another farming community like former. NextvBryce a Pioneer Village, this whole valley has magnificent view of colourful formations. Stopped Cave Trail for great photo of Bryce like formations glistening in the sun.stopped at Bryce Canyon Visitors Centre then on to Inspiration Point and Bryce Point fir fabulous photos of snow on the hoodoos where in shade. $30 to camp in Bryce so moved on. Beautiful scenic shots on the way as we wind through the canyons on 12. Crossed Sevier River then on to I89. Open valley, snow still crusted in shaded areas, grazing areas irrigated.through Hatch very small place hillside. Terrain rising and followed course of river and very pretty overlook sections. Cows grazing again on very green fertile land! Icy sections visible in the river and dam. Stopped to take photos at Red Canyon interesting Hoodoos and pretty snow scenes on other side.At the Junction of Long Valley we continued down 89 and found a free camp spot off on a side road, incidentally snow still laying all around, next to E. Fork of Virgin River when we were heading for Zion. SATURDAY NOVEMBER 14th, very icy morning, frozen water tap! UTAH INTO ARIZONA After yummy Jaffles from brekky chef, off in sunshine to Zion. Stopped for fuel at Orderville, very small unimpressive place, except for diesel! Arrived at Zion NP entrance to learn that we were over height so had to pay extra $15 to fit under the longest tunnel over 1 mile long with three portholes. We had to wait at the tunnel end whilst the traffic ranger checked with the other to ensure nothing in the tunnel and clear to proceed. The last car through b Carried a baton as the signal from the other end, even though they were in contact on 2 way radio. Kathy called on Viber, great reception in Visitors Centre carpark. Went in to centre and decided after speaking with Kathleen that we should keep moving south toward Phoenix to avoid predicted storms. Determined to makes this a priority stop on our return visit of at least 4 days to allow us to hike into the magnificent gorges etc. Turned off 89 onto 200 unpaved road from Rockville down to 59/389 to Fredonia. However 3-4 miles on a sign warned only high clearance 4WD's so we had to turn back to 89 to Fredonia and Vermillion Cliffs. Tree colors right through the Park and out along road following E.Fork of Virgin River lined with cottonwoods in varying shades of green and bright yellow to gold. Still surrounded by beautiful colourful interesting mesas etc, passed through Virgin town at 3552ft. Through La Verkin and Hurricane reasonable sized places, crossed Virgin River. Then realised we missed turn off to Fredonia. Eventually got onto right track? On Apple Valley Way spectacular Mesa at least 2 miles or plateau? Spectacular formations and colors but on the Western side very flat and scrubby terrain. Passed through Fredonia medium sized town, then crossed border into ARIZONA. Road opened out onto open flat area past here, cattle grazing but scrubby land. Elevation 6000ft, announced as entering Jaibab NF, snow roadside in shade and the whole forest floor thick with snow once past 7000ft still in forest, rising to 7921ft at Jacob Creek junction where you can turn down to North Rim of Grand Canyon But we went via Marble Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs. Very pretty drive. On leaving the forest the Vermillion Cliffs came into view, an awe inspiring sight and aptly named, but sadly photographs do not do them justice. More cattle grazing on mixed grasses some very green other natural tussocks looking grass. Very flat valley on to Hatch, small tourist place around an old Cliff Dweller site at the foot of the cliffs. Very green plain area with grass resembling spinifex from a distance! The red cliffs surrounded us for at least 20 odd miles towering above in a multitude of colors. Stopped at the Colorado River bridge crossing, and found 2 bridges, an original, now used as walk and viewing bridge to Visitors Centre, and a new larger one of similar design to Rio Grande Bridge near Taos in NM. Walked across to photograph sights including Navajo Bridge a natural rock arch only visible from side, nevertheless impressive. Onwards and turned off A89 onto I89 at Bitter Springs, hard to recognise as a 'place'! Pushed on to find a campsite before Flagstaff which is about 7000ft and too cold to camp. Not much available but found roadside stop in dark near Navajo stall buildings about 89 miles before Flagstaff. SUNDAY NOVEMBER 15th , mild,McLean sky. Drove into Flagstaff, snow on mountain all around (around 52deg). The highest peak on the San Francisco mountains was covered in thick snow. However dry and clear in town when we met our friend Kathleen at coffee shop. Had a lovely chat and went around to one of the bars where some of her photos are displayed. Great examples but no drink samples, a little early. As we left Flagstaff weather started closing in. Soon after leaving Flagstaff on Hway 17 the rain was intermittent driving down to Phoenix to meet "The Careys" at their home in Surprise. We met them in Rio Grande Park. We dropped in elevation from 7000ft to 4000ft. Noticed first Suagaro cactus after Black Canyon in patches. Crossed Aqua Fria River without a drop of water, but an abandoned row boat on its side, looking lost! Elevation 2000ft 33 miles from Phoenix. Now 64 deg as entering Phoenix still intermittent rain, flat land and mountains surrounding us. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17th, clear blue sky at sunup. Stewy made Jaffles on the BBQ under their patio overlooking the golf course. Ate inside a bit too fresh to eat out! Jan & Dennis took us to Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens. A wonderful place, totally different to any other garden visited. Thousands if plant types beautifully set out for us to enjoy in sunshine. On entering the Patio Cafe, we were entertained by 2 Road Runner birds who obviously liked to harass customers fir food scraps! He was running up and down the fence behind us to keep Stewy busy with the camera. Small art museum as part of our tour. Left after 4, traffic building but we were able to use HOV lane (High occupancy vehicles). They took us into Cabelas on the way home. This store specialises in sporting goods of every type, including boats, clothing etc etc. however the major mind blowing feature is their display of all native American animals, eg bears, elks, moose, long horn sheep, wolves, etc etc in life size in a central dominating position at the rear of this HUGE store. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18th, clear blue sky at sun up around 7am Bfast in Lance, coffee with Den & Jan. Stewy helped Den finish re,Irving Agave and tightened up his kitchen sink tap. We then went driving up to Wickenburg, historical town 30 odd mikes north west of Surprise. Lunch in Lance on arrival then walking tour of town. Met 2 couples, Emily and .... We're very familiar with Australia as they have a daughter living in Shepparton with her young family. Scheduled to move to Mansfield in January, invited them go visit when passing. Visited the Western Museum with great exhibits of pottery, artwork, artisans dork, historical etc. a special exhibit on of Michael Naranjo blinded and permanently wounded at age 22 by a grenade accident in Vietnam. His mother is a talented ceramic artist Rose Naranjo Sculptures. A blind Taos Indian who lost his sight during the Vietnam war. Fantastic work and enhanced by audio explanations of his own explaining. He works by 'feel' as substitute to 'See'. His continuing work, eg after visiting the Vatican he is helped by his wife explaining after he has explored each piece with his hands - incredible. We crossed the large Hassayampa River when leaving Wickenburg, very dry like Todd River. Home to Surprise and the wonderful hospitality if Jan and Dennis. A lovely evening around the Fire Pit overlooking the golf course and enjoying the sunset at Happy Hour. THURSDAY NOVEMBER 19th, same as yesterday perfect morning Slept in, coffee and then later breakfast burritos with Jan & Den. Off for a long walk and then to Wallys World to buy new Hard Disk external drive for MacBook to store photos. A tour of the "Village" on the way. Very impressive places these Villages here in Phoenix, and I understand other places with similar weather like CA. returned home for BBQ under verandah in warmth until too hit and escaped inside. Stewy was busy loading new HD, so I started to pack our bags. HH out by fire pit again for another great relaxed evening. HOV2 - High Occupancy Vehicle min 2 people (transit lane in Aus) FRIDAY NOVEMBER 20th, same, same, perfect About 65 Coffee and beautiful vegie omelettes cooked by Denny for our farewell bfast. Packed and left around 10am. Watching Airforce F35 Raptors flying around in and out of Luke Airforce Base south of Surprise. They had been entertaining us in flying over during our visit at Carey's. Arrived at Moran's Maricopa about 11.30am. Lots of updating then after lunch walked around to Wendy & Arnie's to see their new house as they advised it was "wine o'clock" so we had to oblige and keep them company! A beautiful house with fantastic well set up back garden and front courtyard (similar to Carey's in Surprise). Their fire pit is gas fired and built in, and Stewy helped them work out how it worked. They have a full outdoor kitchen set up, ie kitchen sink with water, small fridge, large BBQ and a great serving area. Then shuttle collected us and took us to "The Duke" Club for dinner. Home and early to bed as Shaun & Arnie had only flown in night before. We insisted on sleeping in Lance as silly to dirty sheets for one night. SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21st, same beautiful morning Walked to "The Duke" with Wendy & Arnie who insisted on shouting bfast for us all. Beautiful food and we sampled a bfast burrito - yum and Chorizo platter which was scrambled or omelette type egg with sausage finely sliced mixed in with a large burrito on side, also very yummy. Walked back to Blights for iced water and story telling. Left about 1.30 then departed Moran's around 2. Realised we hadn't purchased Pisco supplies for 70th, so had to detour to Total Wine before heading toward Lake Havasu. Dark by 5.30 so hard to find camp spots. Arrived at Parker amusing elevation 417ft after mountains in the past. Surprised to find a small city, so Found Walmart about 7 and camped. Dinner and quiet night. SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd clear and crisp, 55deg approx Up early left about 7 and soon able to see the Colorado River as the road ran parallel, snaking its way toward Lake Havasu. We passed La Paz RV County Park and Buckskin Mountain RV Park that were recommended by the Carey's. Both looked good but Buckskin had a slightly better river position as both on the Cokorado.Very popular RV & boating spots all the way. Parker Dam is a large water storage and hydro; beautiful scenes as we drove around and past the dam, as the sun was shining on the western mountain peaks. Havasu City quite large and nestled a Onside the Lake with a querky feature.London Bridge was sinking into the Thames and put it out to tender fir removal. The Mayor of Havasu, who was responsible for setting up a new part of the community, then 8,000 people, won the bid at around $US2.5 million and then spent another 7million, had it shipped to AZ and rebuilt with the numbered stones, then dredged a new canal to go under it in 1971. Population now around 52,000. Had bfast looking over the canal in the sunshine. Great panoramic view looking back as leaving but nowhere to stop for photo. Crossed the mighty Colorado River about 20 miles west of Havasu and the border into CALIFORNIA. Highway 40 from here on very flat desert landscape with very few passes of significance. Although, as usual mountains in the background surround us. Passed through the Mojave Preserve. Then moving up into the mountains ie Provence, Granite, Bristol and Cady before Barstow, Risen to 2880ft. 40 ended then south on Interstate 15 down into LA. Comimg I n from a different way and snaking our way down from mountains in Apple Valley area, yellow leaves still on trees in valleys. Arrived at Wayne's in Studio a City and met Dianne for the first time.m

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