Friday, May 29, 2015

Tuzigoot - Clarksdale, Arizona

This National Monument is the excavated ruins of the homes of the Sinagua Indians built somewhere between 1000 and 1400.  The name is Apache for "crooked water" and is pronounced Too-zee-goot.  These people also inhabited Montezuma Well and Montezuma Castle in this area, I did a blog earlier this month on those two areas.
Logs were used for support posts of the rooms, as shown in this photo, just one area that had been refurbished to show the construction methods.   Smaller logs were then used for the ceiling and then covered with grasses, branches or other woven material.   Mud was finally placed on top to seal it.

This area was built on a hill, with rooms averaging 200 square feet per family.  There were few exterior doors, similar to other pueblos.  Most of the entrances were accessed through the roof reached by ladders.  If there was any danger, they could just pull up the ladders.

This photo shows one of the rooms.  The dark stone in the middle was used for food preparation.   A smaller stone would be used to crush grains against this stone to prepare food.  Some of the stones were built into the floors.

This little guy was hanging around while I was walking on the trail.  For a while, it seemed like he was leading me.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Verde Canyon Railroad, Arizona

Clarkdale, Arizona is not a very big town, but it's a destination many people visit because of the Verde Canyon Railroad.  I was with two other solo women RVers who took the trip yesterday to a ghost ranch called Perkinsville.  There are closed cars to ride in, but I spent the most of the trip in the open car.  This is where you see the best views, and where I spent my time.  The enclosed cars are nice, with a small snack bar and comfy seats.

The terrain included desert valley, a small river and towering red rock formations, some of which had to be cut in order to build the track years ago.  A 680 foot tunnel was constructed through the highest rock formation, totally blocking any light when the train passed through.  In some areas, the rock walls towered over the train only a few feet from the tracks.


The Verde River follows the tracks, sometimes close and other times hidden from view.  Sometimes the river has large banks with huge trees and grassy areas, other times it meanders through a canyon area with vertical rock walls.


In one area, there were remains of a few cliff dwellings left from the Sinagua Indians, some dating back to 600 BC.


It took us about 2 hours to reach Perkinsville, where they took the two locomotives from the front of the train and attached them to the caboose, so they didn't have to turn the train around.  After a short time, the train started back to the station. 


During the entire trip, there was a narrative with some of the history of the train as well as music, songs about trains and travel.  Since the train is based in Clarkdale, they played "Last Train to Clarksville" as we started heading back to the depot. 

The scenery was spectacular and varied, as shown in the photos below.  It is really hard to capture the magnificence of the area.  In order to see the tops of some of the rock formations, you had to look almost straight up.  The photos below show some of the varied landscape.  It was a great afternoon of traveling.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Between Boondocking

I have been doing a lot of boondocking lately.  It seems that there's always a problem trying to find a place to fill up with fresh water and dump the tanks between boondocking spots.    There have been suggestions of finding a truck stop or sometimes fuel stations have facilities.  However, some of them are a bit difficult to maneuver in, especially when busy. 
Recently I stayed about 10 days in a National Forest and wanted to camp in a different National Forest nearby.  Since there were no truck stops or other facilities between the spots, I checked into an RV Park on the way.   Passport America gives a 50% discount on camping at certain member campground, and there was one halfway between the two destinations.  A perfect solution - overnight stay, do my laundry there and have a nice long hot shower.  I just pulled in and set up, didn't disconnect the truck, just took the weight off the bed.  A perfect solution, and reasonable.  Passport America is probably the number one membership to have, it's very reasonable and you make up the cost in a couple stays.  BUT, this is not meant to be an advertisement.
Next morning, I took off for the next boondocking spot and was able to park with a great view out my back window.  The ridge in the distance has multi-color rock layers through it, mostly shades of red.  On clear days, I can see the peaks of mountains peeking over the top of the ridge, still all covered in snow.

The view on the other side is the sunset, which happened to be beautiful the other night.
When I decide to move to my next boondocking area, I'll probably be staying at Dead Horse State Park.  Yeah, I know - weird name, but apparently there was a dead horse there one time before they decided what to name the park.  Below is a photo of one of their lagoons, which, unfortunately is not where the campground is.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well, Arizona

It amazes me how people from centuries ago built their homes.  Recently I visited an area known as Montezuma Castle, which is a misnomer since Montezuma wasn't involved and it's not a castle.  The dwellings shown above were built into the wall of a cliff high above a canyon wall.  Since this area was abandoned in the 1400s, we don't know how these were accessed, but other cliff dwellers had used ladders.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed inside these dwellings, since they were closed to tourists in the early 1950s for preservation.  In another area of this cliff, there was an area that had dwellings that were 5 stories high.  Some time in the past, these dwellings fell away from the cliff and all that is left are a few walls and ruins some are shown below.
This area was a beautifully shaded area by the Arizona Sycamore trees, which are shown below.  Going along the property edge was a nice little creek, which had probably been bigger back when the area was inhabited.
A few miles away is Montezuma Well, which looks like a swimming hole in a sinkhole.  It looks like it would be a fun place to swim.  Except for the sign nearby that tells us about the exotic creatures living in the well - like leeches, water scorpions and amphipods that look like small shrimp.  The water continually wells up from the bottom of the pond and at one end of the pond, there is an underwater drain where the water flows into a nearby creek.  It is estimated that 10% of the water is replenished each day.
 High up on the cliff facing the well is one of the dwellings that were inhabited in this area before the 1400s.
This was a nice area to explore, with paved trails near the well and down to the creek area.  I was pleased to note that they have apparently trained the snakes to stay off the trail, so that we would not encounter them unless we strayed off the path.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sedona, Arizona, Red Rock Country

Sedona is a very tourist-oriented city.   The scenery is striking with all the red rock formations.  There are dozens of hikes ranging from easy, short treks to multi-mile excursions.  It is also a very expensive area to find lodging.  As a result the RV parks are very expensive and I've been camping in the National Forest.  This gives me more experience at boondocking.

Yesterday my traveling friend and I took off in the morning to explore the area.  The area we traveled was to view these rocks formations.  They are massive and it's hard to show any indication of the size. Then we took a trip up a narrow winding road to an area of higher elevation where the tall pine trees climbed the steep sides of the mountains.  It was such a contrast from where we had been staying with the small trees and scrubby brush in the National Forest.

There was a bridge over a canyon which was very picturesque.  In the valley below the canyon you can see a small river if you look closely.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Grand Canyon!

While I was in Williams, Arizona, a friend and I were thinking about taking the train up to the Grand Canyon to spend a few hours exploring. Since Williams is over 6000' in elevation, it was quite cool up there, and to add to the fun, we spent two full days with total overcast and rain. My friend decided we should just drive up the next morning we saw blue sky (!) again so that we could have unlimited time.

So, on my last day there, we went up to visit the Canyon. Since the area is so well visited, they have a fleet of shuttle buses that run along the south rim of the Canyon. You can get off at every scenic overlook to take photos and then board another bus that comes along every 10 or 15 minutes. Otherwise, the area would be a mass of vehicles trying to maneuver along the roads. During off-season, when there aren't many visitors, since it snows up there, you are allowed to drive that same route.


The Colorado River shaped the Canyon millions of years ago, it now flows through the bottom of the Canyon at almost a mile down - not often seen by people standing on the rim. The Canyon itself is massive, covering over 1900 square miles. It can be anywhere from 5 to 18 miles from the South Rim to the North Rim, which is higher elevation. There are many colors in the rock formations that have been carved out by the river, layer by layer. Although our shuttle bus took us along the rim for 8 miles, we saw only a small portion of the canyon.


The last stop on the shuttle was Hermit's Rest, a very rustic building built in the early 1900s with local rock. It now houses a snack bar and gift shop. The most amazing part of the building is the giant fireplace area, as shown in the photo below. There were people relaxing in that area, so I've blocked them off since I didn't have permission to post their photos. Unfortunately, they didn't have a fire going on that day.

There are different tours available, such as helicopter rides inside the canyon, and a pack-mule trip down into the canyon, a 20 mile hike with a couple days of camping. I probably won't be doing either of those. I will most likely go back to visit the Canyon again and camp there, or close by. There is so much more to see than what you can see in a few hours.

On the way back to our park, we saw cars parked on each side of the road, so we slowed down and saw an elk grazing along the road.  He was oblivious to the attention and just looked up a couple times.

Since neither of us had lunch, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant for an early dinner on the way home.  It was a great exploring day!   Thanks to my good friend who did the driving!


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Seligman, Arizona - on Route 66

Seligman is a small town, about a mile long, that has survived on Route 66, mainly because of its close proximity to Interstate 40. And the dedication of the two brothers (one now deceased) who ran the Snow Cap, a drive in restaurant where you're sure to get pranked if you go in. They have door knobs on each side of the exit door, with signs saying "Push", so you have a 50% chance of using the door knob that doesn't work. The sign outside says Burritos, Tacos and Dead Chicken.

When I arrived, it was lunch time, so I walked over to the Road Kill Cafe where the menu was composed by someone with a morbid sense of humor. Funny, but a little gross if you were sensitive. You could choose from items such as Tire Track Snack, Roadside Remnants, Rack of Raccoon, Bad Brake Steak and many more. If your stomach could handle the humor, the food was good.

Typically Route 66, there were old vehicles at the tourist stores, some in decent shape and others that have been allowed to weather. The first day I was there the town was quiet. The second day was the Fun Run, a yearly event that brings all the car buffs out in full force. Vintage cars in great shape with beautiful paint jobs were cruising up and down the streets. Some newer cars were jazzed up with neon lights and other additions. This is in addition to vintage cars around town that are there for decoration - in good shape or rusting. This VW van has been autographed by visitors.

There are the typical tourist shops, this one is in a converted gas station, which is a great way to keep the town from looking like it's dying.

Murals on the sides of buildings are alive and well here and some of them were quite well done.

Route 66 was full of neon signs in past years, but only a few exist here. The Snow Cap is the most popular, shown above, but there were a couple motels that had them also.

It was a fun little town, especially since the car rally was going on, and it definitely was worth visiting.  I have made a slide show of more photos of Seligman, available at