Monday, June 29, 2015

Route 66 - Holbrook, Arizona

Arizona is not the only place that Wigwam Motels were built. There are only a couple left, and the one here in Holbrook looks like it's been doing fine. Old cars are scattered around the lot, but leave space for their customers' vehicles. There were enough customers that the new cars ruined the ambiance for my photos! One of the rooms was being cleaned for the next guests and I asked if I could stick my head in to check it out. It was quite nice inside - 2 double beds with a few pieces of furniture, the bathroom in the back. It looks bigger inside than I had imagined. So, as far as tourist spots, this one gets my vote.


Back when Route 66 was a big deal, it seems like life was much simpler back then. After all, how can you account for all the huge statues of dinosaurs? They were in this area way back when, certainly. But, how many towns have multiple statues of their ancient extinct animals?

Of course, this little town has its share of old, unused gas stations and motels, it seems standard for old Route 66 towns.

This gas station seems to have been nicely restored and still in business as a motorcycle shop.

So far, my favorite Route 66 town remains Tucumcari in New Mexico. They seemed to have an abundance of old vehicles, abandoned motels and other relics. Check out my slide show of Tucumcari at

Petrified Forest National Forest

The above photo looks like an amazing kind of rock, doesn't it. Actually, it was something that started a couple hundred million years ago - part of a petrified tree. The area used to be a floodplain with many streams with lots of evergreens. As the trees fell, the streams washed them into the floodplains nearby. Then they were buried under mud and volcanic ash, cutting off the oxygen. Silica from the water seeped into the logs, which petrified them. 

After a few hundred million years, the region changed, parts of the land were uplifted and over time, the wind and water wore at the rock layers and exposed the now-petrified trees. In the 1800s people would take the wood for souvenirs for themselves and also to sell to others. Finally, in the early 1900s, the area was set aside as a national monument. In more recent years, more acreage has been added to the monument, which now spans over 218,000 acres and was upgraded to a National Park. As with other National Parks, there are areas with no access allowed.

The colors in the petrified wood vary depending on the type of minerals that seep into the wood. As with all National Parks, collection of specimens are not allowed. Petrified rocks are available in all sizes and colors in this area from private enterprises, collected on land in the area that is outside the National Park.

In addition to all the amazing petrified wood pieces, this National Park includes some very striking senery. This photo shows some of the Blue Mesa area.


As with most areas in the southwest, the early settlers built pueblos and lived on the land, farming it. These were the ancestors of the Hopi and Navajo tribes. There are some ruins left in the area.

Petroglyphs are in some of these areas, the main area is called Newspaper Rock. These symbols and drawings were carved into the rock by using another, sharper rock.


Below is a photo of a section of petrified wood that has been polished - made smooth and shiny by grinding and sanding.  It really shows the colors, and these pieces are very expensive. 

Below are more examples of the petrified logs that are laying all over the park.......



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Painted Desert, Arizona

The southwest is full of stunning scenery - rock formations, petrified wood and multi-colored hills. In addition to the unique scenery in the Petrified Forest National Park, nearby is the Painted Desert.

As with all these areas, access is restricted to only parts you can drive or hike short distances to.

I just can't resist a photo of my favorite lizard - he was so nice to pose for me. The light was just right to see how scaley his skin is.  They're called Collared Lizard.
As with all the desert areas, I just love it when I come across a rusted old car out in the middle of nowhere. This car is pretty well weather-worn, but it was placed here as part of the Route 66 promotion.
This area has just amazing scenery, but not much in the way of phone signals or internet.  Even the library is closed on Mondays!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Standing on the Corner - Winslow, Arizona


Most people are familiar with the song "Take It Easy", written and performed by the Eagles back in the 1970s. For those who somehow missed the whole thing, the lyrics that made this town famous are.....

"Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,
such a fine sight to see,
there's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford,
slowing down to take a look at me."

The song was a big hit and put Winslow on the map. People who had never heard of Winslow now knew that it existed.

Back in 1999, on a street corner donated to the city by a pioneer family, a dedication celebrated the site, which included a statue of a man with a guitar and a wall erected so that it would appear old, with a window that depicts a reflection of a woman in a Ford truck.  Bricks with donors' names pave the area just in front of the window.

The flatbed Ford is parked alongside the road at the exhibit.

This site is probably visited more than anything else in Winslow, probably more than all the other sites put together.  Of course, shops opposite the display have all sorts of Route 66, Eagles and Take it Easy memorabilia.

I know that if this little corner didn't exist in Winslow, I would have probably bypassed the town.  I did find this interesting statue down the road, carved out of a single log from a huge tree.  It looks much taller in person, probably about 20' tall. 

I'm sure the city residents are happy that this song has brought them fame and visitors for the past few decades.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Information (and interesting facts) you need to know before you go to the Grand Canyon National Park

Just for general information, I thought I'd log some of the interesting facts I've learned about the Grand Canyon.  If you want to sightsee the canyon the easy way, you can buy yourself a seat on the red helicopters that can be seen flying over. It only costs $539 per person! Guess who's not doing that?

The Canyon has been a national park for a long time, long enough that they have the transportation efficiently set up. You take your car to a parking lot and then you board a shuttle taking you to the trails and sights you want to see. You are given a map at the entrance which explains the whole thing. They have different routes depending on where you want to go. However, if you want to get a great spot for sunset, there may be a couple busloads filled up while you're waiting to go. But, the light is much better for photos about 5 PM and sunset was amazing.  The late afternoon photos are much better than the daytime ones, since the sun is on the opposite side at that time.

They do not sell bottled water, but they have a few water stations along the way where you can refill your own bottle.  It comes from a spring right down at the bottom of the canyon.  If you don't have a bottle, they will sell you a nice souvenir one.  Luckily, I brought my own bottle and the water tastes good. They could use a few more locations though.

It's a good idea to bring pretty much everything you need.  They have a little grocery store in the Grand Canyon Village as well as a store in the little village about 2 miles outside the gates.  However, the prices are at least double what you'd find in a normal grocery store.  I felt like I was shopping back in the Virgin Islands because the prices were so high.

They do have a very nice little library with WiFi that you can go in and use.  Wonderful idea for people who spend more than a couple of days there.

One thing I was surprised about was a monument for an airline crash that happened on the east end on the Canyon in 1956. Two airplanes collided, TWA and United, above two buttes in the Canyon. There is a monument in the Pioneer Cemetery in the Grand Canyon Village for 29 passengers from United Airlines who were unidentified. The remains of most of the TWA passengers were buried in a mass grave in Flagstaff. Only 29 passengers were identified and returned home.

Back in the late 1800s it seems that everyone in Arizona was mining copper. It surprised me to find out that mining was happening inside the Grand Canyon, 3000' below the the rim. This mine was reached by a 3 mile trail, still in use today by hikers. In order to bring the ore up, they used mules to haul 200 pound loads to the canyon rim. While I was visiting here, the temperatures were in the low 90s and there were signs warning of excessive heat. Inside the canyon, things heat up and temperatures over 110 were predicted during the daytime. The hikes down into the canyon are steep and winding. I went down the mine trail for a ways, but at an elevation of 7000', I didn't want to be on that trail for long.

The Colorado River cuts through the canyon about a mile down.

On the road leading into the park, you're likely to see elk grazing along the road. The first morning I went in, I was able to catch a lazy one who was apparently not hungry.

And this little guy was wandering across the street from my camp site the other day.

And the rest of the photos are just shots of the Canyon.  This Park is so massive there is no way to see the entire thing in one or two days.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Watch Tower, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Perched near the east edge of the Grand Canyon is a 70' tall tower made of local stone. It was built in the 1930s in the style of Indian pueblos, kivas and other dwellings of the southwest. It contains four stories, with a winding staircase on the inside walls.


The tower is decorated with various recreated petroglyphs and pictographs, wall paintings, all recreated from Indian dwellings. The tower was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who also designed another building in the Grand Canyon National Park.


The ceiling on the top floor has many reproductions of paintings and other Indian-like drawings and can be seen from the bottom floors.


A few chairs that were made from natural products, wood and animal hides, were inside the structure, with strict signs not to sit in them.

It was a wonderful structure and a great view of the Grand Canyon from inside. This National Park takes days to explore, if you want to see the highlights.


Thursday, June 18, 2015


A few nights ago I heard some strange noises in the very quiet forest camp I was in.  It sounded like it was coming from the fridge.  Then it sounded like it was coming from further forward in my fifth wheel.  I got my flashlight, then went out to open my basement doors.  I flashed the light around - didn't see any movement, didn't see anything out of place, nothing out of the ordinary.
That night I woke up about 2 o'clock in the morning and heard more noises.  I decided that I needed to do some real investigation the next day.
The next morning I got up early as usual, had my breakfast, then went out and  opened up all my hatches in the basement.  I started at one side and took everything out, I found what looked like a nest.  Luckily there were no babies in the nest.  What was in the next was bristles from my expensive, very soft brush that I use to clean the RV. 
I emptied out the rest of the basement to make sure that he/she wasn't hiding anywhere.  I will be listening very carefully for the next few nights to make sure that he's not anywhere around.
I guess that's the downside of boondocking.  But at least I caught it in time so there was not much damage done except for my brush.  It is funny that the critter took the bristles from the middle of the brush and left all the bristles on each side - she/he just took the middle third of it.

Monday, June 15, 2015

National Forest Hiking - Flagstaff, Arizona

Since I've been camping in the National Forest near Flagstaff for a week now, I'd like to share some of my hiking experiences. Most all the roads in the Forests are dirt, very few that are paved. This region has quite a bit of hard red dirt except when it rains and gets muddy, and that's when vehicles make ruts in the roads. Unfortunately, quite a few of these rutted roads are just about impossible to safely use for any kind of trailer or Class A motorhome.

For hiking, they're perfect. There are multiple varieties of wildflowers in this area.

I found a wonderful split-rail fence that zig-zagged along the road.

Unfortunately, in one area, I found trash that people bought out and left - a love seat and a full size sofa!  In my own campsite, I found an old truck radiator behind some bushes, as well as the usual litter people leave. I think this is probably locals who just come out to dump and think it's a nice, quiet deserted area. I have a hard time believing it would be RV people!
There is beautiful scenery and numerous types of trees, even ones that still stand stately although they are no longer alive.

There is an endless supply of firewood with no signs saying we can't use it. A chainsaw would be helpful.
And lots of petrified cow patties - some with mushrooms growing in them!

There is new growth here, this pine tree was full of it.
It was very relaxing wandering through the forest, there was an old water tank with a pipeline that ran to a watering trough.   I don't know what the answer is to the littering, I wish there was some way to combat it.