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Thursday, March 31, 2011

VACATION – Day Trip Day to Sedona and Jerome, Arizona

(this post is about Wednesday, March 30, 2011)


We woke up about 6 am in our stealth camping spot by the locked gate at the campgrounds south of Flagstaff.  Nobody bothered us during the night, and there weren’t any tickets on the front windshield either.  So I guess it was another free night of camping?

Now today, we plan to take a long day trip in the Tracker to Sedona and Jerome.  Hauling along the dogs in the back seat of the Tracker is one option, but where do we leave the rig that is safe?   Soooooo here was our plan.  We called (the night before) to Black Bart’s RV park and Steak House located right in Flagstaff!


They gave us a discount for any or all of the camping clubs we belonged to, or AARP or whatever, he didn’t know which one to apply, so he just gave us a rate of $26 instead of $30 for a full hookup site.   They said we could come early as we wanted, park in any pull through site, and then daytrip as planned.  So we did!

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We pulled in and got the doggers settled in the back of the rig with the tv on loud, the AC set and ready to take over if it got hot, and I stuck a turkey breast in the crock pot on low.  Once in a while it’s fun to have electricity to run those kind of things.  We chatted with our neighbor, a single guy full-timer, who said he would keep an eye on our rig and dogs while we were gone.

Off we went to find our way into Sedona…. my oh my what a route!!!!  Again, I took about six gazillion pictures, and can only post about 4 or 5 before I start to bore you guys.  

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Sedona is know for it’s RED ROCKS…whew!   And RED they were -----    we wound our way down Alt. 89 into the town, after tight 10mph hairpin turns and switchbacks through the valley.  A few smaller Class C rigs were braving the route, but large trucks and motorhomes over 40 feet are not allowed or recommended. This class A was braving the route, towing a car too.  I don’t think we would do that!

The road looks wide here in this pic, but it got very very narrow and tight turns too.

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We wound our way into the town, full of art galleries, tourist stops and wonderful scenery.  Every where you looked in town, you could see the huge massive red rocks towering overhead from the edges of the town’s limits.  We drove around and stopped to fuel up the Tracker.  Steveio spotted a boutique looking place that was second hand consignments.  So of course, we HAD to take a look…..

We found this teak wood folding chair, and it was only $15!   I know teak chairs are very expensive, so we snapped it up.  We can keep it folded up and stowed in the closet or under the couch in the motorhome with our other wooden chair (wooden folding town hall style chair)    Now we have TWO chairs for company in our rig for dinner, instead of the one town hall chair and using our coffee table as a bench seat.

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After we got home, I looked it up, and this chair sells for over $200, and was on sale for $169.  wheee!


We left Sedona and headed further south, down through Cottonwood.  The scenery was lovely but not as steep or challenging as going into Sedona.  We scouted out another thrift shop, this time it was a Hospice group.  The had a rented store front in a strip mall, and were looking to raise funds to build a hospice center in their town.  So all proceeds were going to a good cause.  We meandered around and I found a WHOLE bag of wool and cotton yarns!   Some were large cones, of a special favorite cotton  boucle I like to use when weaving dishtowels, and then some big skeins of handspun wool.. .some smaller balls of handspun wool, all looking like they had been dyed with natural herbs and plants.  Some odds and ends too in the bag of commercial wools.  And… the bag was FOUR DOLLARS!     Here is my “stash enhancement purchase”

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From there, we decided to drive on to Jerome… a tiny mining community way high up in the hills.  We knew that motorhomes were verbotten on these roads, so it was now or never to get there in the Tracker.  UP UP UP  we drove as we wound our way zigging and zagging up the sides of red rock mountains. 

Again, a couple gazillion pictures, but I will force myself to only put in a few….

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We walked around downtown Jerome for a while, and windowshopped a bit. 

One place was a store of all kaleidoscopes, called Nellie Bly….   http://nellieblyscopes.com/home.html

They had one set up out on the street for you to look at a barrel of planted flowers.. how cool is that? So I aimed my camera lens right into the end of the scope to snap a few shots! 

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Then we decided it was time for lunch… so we went into a little bistro called The Grapes Restaurant & Bar at 111 Main Street.  


They are also on Facebook too. The Grapes Facebook Page

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We were seated immediately and ordered drinks….  Steve ordered a microbrewry beer and I indulged in:

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(I give you:  “KarenInTheBar” )

I ordered a French Dip Sandwich and salad… Steve had a Rueben and kettle chips (shame on him!)

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After our lunch, we strolled the streets and admired all the Harley’s that were parked along the main drag.  It was a wonderful day in the 80’s and the bikes were out in big packs, cruising along Alt. 89 on the curvy mountain roads.   We went north of town, up up up on even twistier turns and climbed up to an overlook.

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At the top of the highest point, there was a pull off for a scenic lookout.  Some vendors were up there selling jewelry laid out on tarps on the sidewalk.  We said No, Thank You and walked on by…

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We headed back down through Jerome, and wound our way among the streets again, then down to the valley floor.  We went this time through Camp Verde and up the interstate (yuck) but the doggers were waiting to be let out, as was our turkey in the crock pot dinner.   So off we went back to the RV park for the night.  This is only our fifth night in an RV park in over 5 weeks.  So not too bad of an average? 

I was thinking a bit … about how each place we have gone to see, and each place we stayed a night,  few nights, or a few weeks… they all feel like HOME in many ways to us.  Each place can become HOME,  but we can always leave and find new places to call HOME too.  Ahhhh life in an RV!

We caught up laundry in the park laundromat, and Steve asked permission to wash the rig and Tracker.   So we are all spiffyed up and even the doggers got a good bath--- removing all the red dust embedded in their coats!

getting rid of the rest dust

  They don’t look too happy about it, do they?




VACATION – Leaving the Grand Canyon and heading to Flagstaff

(this post is about Tuesday, March 29, 2011)

Well, after taking two bazillion more shots of the Grand Canyon, it was getting time to leave.  So instead of showing you even ONE MORE PICTURE of the Grand Canyon, instead I will show us saying “Goodbye” …

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At our boondocking spot, the folks who snuck in a rig between us and the other gal also were pulling out.  I can’t believe they were able to sneak in between us, through the mud and ruts, to park for the night.

            Our rig                                                    the new rig                      Laurel who was here first

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We started up the rig to leave, and noticed the check engine light come on, and rough idling… oh no!   After about a minute it stopped doing that and ran smooth.  This happened the day we came to the Grand Canyon too.  So we hit the highway and headed south towards Flagstaff.  The mountain called Humphrey’s Peak at 12,600 ft loomed ahead.  Wow.. what a sight!!!  They don’t grow em like that in Wisconsin!

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As we drove closer to Flagstalff, we called Northern Arizona Diesel repair to ask for a diagnostic test.   We found our way there, and a great guy named Scott came out to check our rig as it sat in the parkinglot, so we didn’t even have to unhook the Tracker and pull into a working bay!  

Scott ran it through the diagnostic codes, of which we had NO BAD CODES…. yeeehawwww!  He showed us how to run the codes ourselves from the dash, something we had never known about before. So he suggested changing both of the fuel filters and then perhaps it was the higher altitude causing the problem.  See, on electronic diesel engine, it needs to adjust the settings in the computer of the saved driving circumstances. The engines adjust themselves to altitudes and driving habits after being shut down and restarted a few times to be saved and set the conditions in the computer.    Some engines take five times, some engines take ten times, etc to save the correct settings.

And WHAT was his charge for spending the time with us???   NOTHING!!!!    I did give his old garage doggie a biscuit----   http://www.northernarizonadieselllc.com/   So I added them to the http://rvservicereviews.com/Index.asp website where you can list good places to go!

We decided to stay close to Flagstaff, in case we had more trouble in the next morning, then we could go back  to the same repair shop.  We found some campgrounds listed at the Flagstaff fairgrounds, just south of town, so we headed there.   Oh oh…. they were closed yet for the season.   Shhhhhhh but we were in a nice level parking lot in front of their locked gate, far from the road noise, and by a big grove of pines. 

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So we made ourselves at home, figuring if a cop stopped by in the middle of the night, we would explain we were having diesel trouble and needed to go back to the repair garage in the morning.    But nobody came around….   we set up the grill and did some steaks for supper!  

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We hung our big dark blue bath towels along the windows that faced the entrance to the parking area, so after dark, nobody could see our lights or the tv through the windows.  Stealth Camping!   hahahahaha

We settled in for a quiet night, and slept soundly after our busy busy day….. and the next morning, guess what?  The rig started up GREAT and no bad codes, engine check lights, or rough idling.  I think we are going to be just fine….. it ran like a top to the next destination. 

Read my next blog to find out where we went and how far!  LOL


95 miles travelled today

3,048 miles travelled so far

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

VACATION – Exploring the Grandest of the Grand Canyon

(this post is about Monday, March 28, 2011)


We woke up to frosty cold ground and temps of 30 degrees.  The sky was clear blue without a cloud in sight.   Not a lick of a breeze either.  It was gonna be a GREAT day to explore the Grand Canyon!

The heater mostly stayed working all night, but sputtered a few times and we had to click the ignition to relight it.  Better than using the big noisy built-in furnace.  We ate up some breakfast and headed out to explore part of the park.  We left the doggers back in the rig this time, in case we wanted to enter into buildings or take a break inside somewhere.  Dogs are allowed throughout the park on leash anywhere on the trails or viewing areas.  But not on the shuttle busses or in the buildings.

We decided to explore the eastern end of the park, all the way to the Desert View area and all the stops in between.  The morning was peaceful and that area of the park attracts less visitors.  We took the Tracker all the way along the eastern drive by the rim, though we could have waited for the free shuttle bus service too if we wished.   The route along the eastern side of the south rim is about 20-25 miles.  

Yup.. the Grand Canyon is REALLY here…  they left it here for us to find it.  It didn’t get moved or filled in or anything.   It is here for our generation and many many more after us to come and see it.  Just like the millions of years before, it is here.  And amazing and spectacular and immense and awe-inspiring.  Words can’t describe it, so I will stop trying.

We stopped at several pull out areas to check the view.  Danged if I didn’t drop my newest digital camera in the parking lot! ARGGGHHH   It kinda dented the telescoping lens and it sometimes extends automatically and sometimes don’t when you want to turn on the camera.  I shifted it a little and it will come out, but the little metal band around the edge of the lens is dented and prevents it from retracting correctly.  I removed it for now, but will try to smooth and straighten it and glue it back on.  It protects the automatic lens cap mechanism from dirt or damage, so I have to get it back on the camera.   But it still worked--- sometimes!  But never fear, my digital video camera combo can also take digital pics too.  So we won’t be without pictures, oh no, not me!   LOL

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We went to the Watchtower, which was designed by a woman, Mary Colter, for the park back in 1930.  It was an interesting place and we got some great views of the canyon from the easternmost section of the park.

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I like how they used the pots on the wall for lighting sconces to illuminate the tower’s interior

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We did the “tourist thing” and indulged in a souvenir from the gift shop! It’s a small woolen woven rug that we can use as a table runner on our small table in the motorhome.  It was woven by a Zapotec Indian weaver in Oaxaca, Mexico, by the name of Luis Mondoza.   The National Park has a deal with those weavers to make rugs for their shops, and it helps the economy of the tribe to create them.   This one is 2 feet long by 1 foot wide.  in pretty browns and greens and creams, with twisted fringes and a balanced pattern.

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We had also bought a smaller one in S. Dakota a few years back too from the National Park there.little wool mat

As we headed back along the route, we saw some elk on the side of the road, grazing and looking at US like we were some kind of attraction put there for their amusement???

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After all our gadding about the eastern end of the park, we returned back to the motorhome to make some lunch, let out the dogs, and take a nap!  Yawwwnnn this vacation business can get to be a tiring thing?

The air was filled with helicopters flying past every few minutes, I kid you not!  But we slept anyhow.

After our naps, we returned to the park and left the Tracker in a parking spot near the Grand Canyon Village (a cluster of hotels, shops and museums)   We walked along the rim, checking out the buildings.  This one was a Hopi Indian shop with many interesting things inside.  We didn’t buy anything, but looked around.

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This part will interest the weaving buddies who read my blog:

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Some of the rugs were interesting, and we went from room to room in the building to see them all…

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This display (poorly photographed by me)  had all the natural herbs and plants used to dye the various colors in the wool for the rugs.   What a nice addition for a weaver’s studio.

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We strolled along the rim and enjoyed the views from every angle.  We had to set up the camera and do a Tourist Shot of course.   Think this should be our next Christmas Card?

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Behind the bigger lodges and newer hotels, we saw these adorable little cabins, still being used today as rentals for guests at the park.   I can only imagine how primitive they were when first built, but now adapted with heat, electric, water etc.   In days of the past, folks used to ride up 12 hours in a stage coach to come to the park from Flagstaff.  Later trains ran up to the rim for easier access to the park.  Teddy Roosevelt did a great thing by preserving this park for the future generations.

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It was getting near sunset, and we decided that instead of walking along the rim to the west, we would take a shuttle bus.  The run every 10 minutes around the park, and are free.  So we hopped on a bus destined for the far eastern route to the place called the Hermit’s Rest.  It stops at various lookouts along the way.

At the fist stop, an elderly couple got on the bus and sat down in front of us.  He had on a Packer hat and jacket--- heh heh  fellow Wisconsinites!   They are from around Madison, but had lived up near Two Rivers.  They were visiting the canyon and then going on to their daughter’s house in Utah to babysit the grandkids for a week.  What a fun trip they were having.  They had been at the park in the 50’s and a LOT has changed since then they said.  The shuttle busses were a big improvement over the old open trolley cars.

We stayed on the bus till the end of the route at the Hermit’s Rest, and got off there to look around.   It was the furthestmost point of the west end of the park that we could go to. 

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The views were spectacular as the sun began to set…   I can not even describe the huge vastness, the open spaces, the immense beauty of this place.  If you have been here, these photos will help you recall that feeling.   If you have not been here, I hope you can go sometime.

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One can see all the pretty post-card-like pictures, but it is NOT the same as being here…

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On our way back from the bus-stop to the parking lot where we left the Tracker, there was a small herd of mule deer alongside of the road.  It was getting dark, so this was the best I could do with the photos….

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We headed on back through Tusayan, and stopped at a Wendy’s for a quick dinner.  It was already past 7pm but we had defrosted steaks for a planned supper.  Since we took the tour bus, we decided that it was too late to grill out the steaks.  So fast food it is….   it was okay, as I ordered a favorite, the baked potato with cheese and bacon.  Imagine my surprise when instead of the crumbled bacon bits on my potato, there were three pieces of crisply fried bacon STRIPS laying on top of the potato!  Guess that is how Wendy’s does it in Arizona, huh?

We pulled in behind our motorhome in the dark, and saw that a third motorhome has moved in while we were gone!   It had backed in around the other gal’s rig and was situated between us now.  A bit closer than we would have liked, but perhaps they too saw the big muddy hole further down the road and decided this was better than nothing.   We noticed they were running their generator well into the night, so they must not be solared up for quiet boondocking.  Arggghhhhh    As we went to bed, we put on a DVD and let it drown out the faint noise from the outside.  The dual paned windows in our rig drown out a lot of sound, but the tv noise helps too.


Tomorrow is another day….



77 miles travelled today in the Tracker

no miles travelled today in the motorhome