Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Back to Earth

Our sightseeing tour by air was a marvelous experience. On Monday we drove 65 miles south to our next campground in Monticello Utah, and on Tuesday toured a very small part of Canyonlands National Park by jeep. We think we recognized some of the formations we saw from above, or at least the areas.

Here are a few of the remarkable rocks we saw in Canyonlands.

While driving through the park we stopped for a short hike at Pothole Point.

The surface was a large continuous dark gray rock with thousands of depressions, large and small. When there is rain, the holes fill with water and it stays long enough to support life such as tadpoles and small shrimp. A few of the now sand-filled depressions can be seen in the foreground of the above picture.

Most of the trail through this area was marked with cairns. It would have been very easy to get lost without them.

It is hard to show how large these rock cliffs are. Massive is a good adjective to use.

This is a detail I noticed. Layers within layers.

To me it is amazing how many different formations can be the result of a few forces: time, wind, water, upheavals and sinks.

On the way to and from Canyonlands we drove through about 30 miles of BLM land. "Newspaper Rock" is right along Utah 211 in the BLM.

 Petroglyphs have always fascinated me. 

These were amazingly well preserved by a huge rock overhang. 

The day itself was quite beautiful with temperatures in the 70s. I really would not want to be there when it is hotter, but I bet it would be beautiful with a dusting of winter snow. 

One last picture:

Monday, September 24, 2018

Canyonlands and Monument Valley from the Air

We were in the Moab, UT area in 2015, and enjoyed seeing Arches National Park from the car and on foot. This time we decided to take a scenic tour by air.

We took off at 8 AM, not long after a beautiful Utah sunrise. 

The cliffs cast remarkable shadows in the morning light.

Viewing the canyons from above was amazing. 

The shadows cast by the clouds gave an ever changing light and dark pattern to the landscape below, and the plexiglass windows of the four seater Cessna softened the focus of our images.

Some places were barren and felt like they could have been on another planet.

Others were vibrant with life.  

We flew over several rivers. Their deep meanders seemed endless.

In one of these loops the river flows almost eight miles to go two.

We saw many different colors. There were several types of sandstone, ranging from light gold to deep rust red, and areas of white crust/layers that were ancient salt deposits.

After Canyonlands. our flight tooks us over and around Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods.  

We passed over many canyons and areas that cannot be seen except by air or by very very serious backpackers.

We took a lot more pictures, each showing interesting and unique views. It was hard to select those that I included above.  ⬇️

[From Craig] Merikay sat in the front passenger seat, while I got the back seat, from which I could shoot to both sides with less interference from the wing struts.  So I got to take 90% of the pictures.

We flew over several meandering canyons, some of which contain arches that very few people see. We didn't see any arches in the one below, but it includes a question. You can see a meandering track in the center and right sections, but it's red like a trail. Merikay thinks it's a dry creek bed. Which do you think it is?

The image below includes several possible "future arches", but right now they're just caves.  There's an off-road-vehicle trail in front of them, and there are two vehicles in the shade beside the right cave.  

Monument Valley was definitely the best part of the flight. Below is a ridge of spires that look like they might be waiting for some future event.

The rock formation below looks like five fingers thrust up out of the earth.  Never mind that almost all current humans have four fingers!

One of the best features of the Utah rock formations is the juxtaposition of red rocks and white rocks. The image below serves this right up!

You can probably tell we had fun flying over southeastern Utah. Almost as much fun as we had flying around Mount Denali last year. We hope to see/hear of your RV adventures in the future!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Ogden's George S. Eccles DINOSAUR PARK

The Dinosaur Park is located in Ogden, UT not far from Charlie's, where we were waiting on parts for the Alfa's generator service. A perfect day activity! After resting my knee for several days, I was ready for an easy walkabout. 

When we went into the reception area of the Stewart Natural History Museum at the Dinosaur Park, this mural over the staircase caught our eyes. 

Craig commented that they looked like dinosaur tourists. 

I wondered if they were retired, and  had a dinosaur RV!

The first exhibit you see on the second level is an animated T-Rex threatening a triceratops mom and her two little ones. There is a lot of roaring and bleating as the massive sculptures bob and move their heads. The human mom in the forground was trying to talk her little girl into approaching the fence like the other kids. She was pretty scared!

Also on this level was a wonderful exhibit of one-of-a-kind crystals
and gemstones. 

These were only a few of the most beautiful crystals I have ever seen. 

From a balcony on the second floor we were able to get an overview of the first floor which contained several full size skeletal dinosaurs. Most (perhaps all) were reproductions.

After looking through the museum, we went out into the park gardens and connected with a very well informed young man who gave us a 30 minute tour, telling us about some of the very realistic sculptures on exhibit.


              Pteranodon with hatchlings                                                Parasaurolophus

Maiasaura checking on her young. Or is she about to have lunch?

One of the neat things about the exhibits were all the roars, cries and stomping noises that were being broadcast from slightly hidden speakers in the bushes. It made it feel like there were many live, unseen, dinosaurs just "over there."

There were many other wonderful sculptures in the gardens and we enjoyed them all. I would highly reccomend Ogden's Dinosaur Park if/when you are in the Salt Lake area.  The Senior entry fee was only $7 each.

All our maintenance is done, so we are running off together toward the south on Saturday.          

After Labor Day parks not full

If your plan is to just drive, and stop when you want to, it might be easier after Labor Day. Winding down our great summer in the Northwest, we are heading for Salt Lake City for our annual Freightliner service and for some other services at Charlie's, one of the places that has a good reputation for repairs among Alfa owners.

The above is a picture of our last stop which was at the Fairview RV park in the Southern Idaho State Fairgrounds, in Blackfoot ID.
($25 per night for water and electric). Not fancy, but all we need for an overnight stop.

The stop before that was just outside Butte where we parked next to another Alfa. 

Unfortunately we were all tired and it was too cold to socialize!

We arrived in Salt Lake a few days before our Freightliner appointment and ended up staying at a commercial park that we have used before, Pony Express. Even with our Good Sam discount their daily rate has gone over $50 per night.  Last year it was $44. It seems most of the commercial parks are getting more and more expensive, especially if they are in cities or near desirable "tourist" locations. 

Note: My mention of costs and pricing is for the benefit of several of my readers who are currently getting ready for, or just contemplating going full time.

This week has been a bit of a bore. We have seen everything we wanted to see in Salt Lake City during our previous visits, so we more or less just hung out either in the waiting room while at Freightliner, or in the coach while at Charlie's. We had full hook ups at Charlie's and the RV techs came to the Alfa to do the service on the generator, air conditioner, and the couple of other small repairs we needed. We also enjoyed happy hour outside the rigs with several other Alfa owners.

However, on Thursday Craig found information about the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park and Natural History Museum which was not far from where we were.  

It was a beautiful day with absolutely perfect temperatures for an outdoor adventure.

That (with nice dinosaur pictures) will be in our next post.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Coeur d'Alene, Hike, Alpaca Ranch, Boat Trip

Our summer tour of Oregon and Washington is over.

It is time to turn the wheels south again. But first we spent 3 days enjoying the Coeur d'Alene Idaho area. This was just a quick look-see. Someday we want to come back and spend a longer time exploring this area.

For some reason the 48 miles from Elk to Coeur d'Alene was quite exhausting. Maybe it was the traffic in Spokane. In any event, after a short rest at Blackwell Island RV Resort, we took a short hike on the Tubbs Hill Trail on Friday afternoon.

The trail starts at a harbor on the east side of Tubbs Hill and goes up and around the hill, overlooking the lake for about 2 miles. Some of it is a bit rough, but at the west end is another harbor and an easy street level route back to the beginning.

Here are a few pictures we took on the hike. No words are necessary.

TripAdvisor is a good source for top tourist attractions. If you only have a few days in a place, a quick look there can keep you busy.

On Saturday we went to the Five Start Alpaca Ranch, their top "thing to do" in Coeur d'Alene.

The $10 per person tour was wonderful!

After a sitdown talk about raising llamas and alpacas, and running a ranch such as this, we went out to the barns and pens to meet the animals. We started with some chickens and goats, and then as we walked through an empty barn, this alpaca peeked through the top of a stall from the outside to see what the people were doing.

What's not to love?

Next we went out to a large pen area where there were dozens of alpacas, llamas, and a few goats. They were all quite used to people, but we were told not to touch them.

I had fun taking pictures!

Each animal was delightfully unique.

This rather large goat liked Craig a lot and kept rubbing against him.

After awhile, our social time came to an end and the herd quietly gathered near one of the gates. They all knew that it was time for them to be turned out into a twenty acre pasture for the afternoon.

The exit was orderly, but I sure wouldn't have wanted to try to stop any of them. What a fun place to visit. I highly reccomend checking out the Seven Star Ranch if you are in the area.

One pleasant way to learn a little more about an area is to take a tour of some sort. Since the main feature of Coeur d'Alene is the lake, a boat cruise was a good bet.

Sunday was a beautiful day for a 90 minute scenic cruise. We learned a little history, but mostly heard about all the rich and famous people who have homes on her shores.

Big beautiful houses, 
   big interesting houses, 
     and big luxury hotels.

Coeur d'Alene is a playground for the rich, but it has plenty of room for, and welcomes, average people like us too.

We would have liked to stay for a few more days, but a Roadtrek rally is coming in on Monday.  

Many arrived and began filling the park on Sunday. So, on Monday morning we will travel on up to Sandpoint Idaho. Another place we want to see.

More to come ~