The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

A Quick Get-Away

I picked up my RV from storage on Wednesday so I could pack up for a small rally with the Texas Ramblin' Roses. Everything worked perfectly as I backed out from under the storage building roof but a few miles down the road, the screen with , the radio, the GPS, the backup camera, etc., just quit working. Of course, now no screen view of anything. Once I got home, my husband and son checked every fuse both under the dash and under the hood. Everything was good. At least, although inconvenient, it won't affect my trip to the rally as I know where I am going, can do without the radio, and can backup using the mirrors.

I don't like to start my fridge when the RV is in the driveway as it is not level enough. So about 9:30PM, I went out to pull it forward into the cul-de-sac. Everyone else angle parks so I am not in anyone's way. All of a sudden, I realized the radio was working.  Of course, I am thrilled; however, hubby and son both immediately commented that wasn't really good as it meant something was loose.

Next morning I headed out to Skyline Ranch RV Park in Bandera TX. Guess what, the radio, GPS, etc., all worked all the way there.

This was different from our regular is the first one since Covid19 reared it's ugly head. We cancelled rallies in April and June. Anyway, everyone was told well in advance that we would be social distancing, using masks where we couldn't social distance, and using lots of handwashing and sanitizer. We had a rally room but chose to sit outside most of the time with a good breeze and 6 foot spacing.

It worked out well since we only had 15 people at the most.

 A couple of the women made a trip to the Apple Store in Medina and brought back some goodies. This is Lollipop, a long-haired dachsund that travels with Marla. She was definitely waiting for her share of the apple strudel.

We always take a group photo. Everyone will remember this one taken with distancing and masks.

We did eat out a couple of times at the Brick's River Café. They have a patio and some huge fans to create some really strong breezes. They also have some pretty good food. Several people had their Dr Pepper burger both times along with some great onion rings. The chicken fried steak was great too. We may also have sampled their peach and blackberry cobbler the second time we ate there.

The morning we left, several of us went to the Cracked Mug Coffee House for breakfast. They have great coffee and some good food choices for breakfast or lunch. When I arrived back at the park, my son was sitting in the shade waiting for me. He rode his motorcycle's a nice ride through the Hill Country. Packing up took no time with his help outside.

All in all, it was a fun time with friends planned with safety in mind. Unpacking back at home was quick and easy too as I didn't have to take a lot for the weekend. Emptied the fridge and freezer and brought in the clothes....clean and dirty. Then it was back to the storage lot until the next outing.

Wrapping Up the National Park Trip

Well, let me try this again. The last try at this post would not save and publish so I lost it.

We left our lovely forest campsite late on Wednesday morning. My first thought since we actually had an extra day left was to head down to Williams to the Passport America park so the kids could swim and see the railroad museum. A quick call confirmed the news that the pool was closed so that ended that. Next thought was a stop at the Petrified Forest, Winslow, etc.; however, once on the road, everyone seemed to be in travel mode. I called Enchanted Trails in the afternoon to get a reservation and had to leave a message. Apparently their office hours really vary with the virus situation and my timing was probably off too. New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah are on mountain time but Arizona does not do daylight savings time so it felt like we were constantly changing time zones since we were back and forth between them. It was after dinner when we arrived so I checked the office door to see if they left a site number. No site number for us so I just made sure we didn't take one that was assigned to someone else coming in and we got set up. The next morning I stopped at the office and paid for the night. 

Our next stop for the night was Big Springs TX. We went back through the less than scenic part of New Mexico and on through Roswell. It looked a bit dark off to the side later in the afternoon but it could have been smoke or dust. Steve and the grandkids got ahead of Helen and I so they were already checked into the hotel when we arrived. it was much too hot for them to stay in the truck. The parking lot was too small for me to park so I pulled up on a little road next to it. Further back it said no parking but there was a semi in front of me and Steve said the driver just checked into the hotel. I was going to fix dinner for us and then look for another place but we were suddenly hit by a strong storm with lots of thunder, lightning, and wind. I called and asked if the kids could just eat at the hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel did not have a restaurant but they quickly ordered a pizza delivery. I fixed Harley and me some dinner. Fortunately storms do not bother Harley at all. I took him out during a slight break in the storm and then we settled in for the night. I figured I would move if I got a knock on the door but otherwise I was not moving in the storm.

The following morning we headed out on the final leg of the trip home. I stopped at Steve and Helen's so they could take their things out of the RV and then headed home. All I brought in was the dog food and the food in the fridge and freezer.

I thought I might have to sleep downstairs on the couch Friday night because I was so stiff but I made it upstairs.  Saturday morning I could barely move. Driving my RV is very easy and not tiring. The driver's seat is very adjustable. Sitting in one stop for way too long is what does me in. Steve, Helen, and the kids showed up and cleaned the RV outside and inside. I was really grateful as it was pretty dusty and dirty and it looked great when they were done.

Thoughts about the trip.....

I'm very glad I went. It might be the last long trip with the 16 year old. Both Grandkids were impressed with the parks but Cameron especially enjoyed it. He loved the hiking they did as well as the scenery. He can pretty much keep up with Steve and Helen.

Really glad I am very used to having Plan B and even Plan C as we needed both when the Magnum Fire closed Jacob Lake and the North Rim and even closed Hwy 89a so we had to reroute back around Hwy 89,

I really enjoyed the boondocking, dry camping, wild camping (whatever you choose to call it) that we did. We managed just fine. I have both a generator and 150w of solar. My 5th wheel had huge fresh water, gray, and black tanks. Since I usually travel alone with Harley, I will have to figure out exactly how long my smaller tanks on the Phoenix Cruiser will last. I only used the generator a couple of times. I have an old fashioned aluminum coffee maker that I can use on the stove versus the antique electric percolator I normally use. Hey, it is over 40 years old but works fine, lol. It was cool enough that we didn't need any heat. The fantastic fans with a couple of windows open kept the temperatures very comfortable for Harley and Angus when they stayed in the RV while we toured the parks.

Dave built a shelf in the bottom of one of my shirt closets before I left. Before that I had to keep my pots, pans, slow cooker etc., in the cabinet over one of the beds and it required unloading a lot to get them out. I knew that would not work when we would be cooking for 5 on a regular basis. The new shelf worked out really well and I still had the plastic drawers above it.  Good move!

I also put 4 large hooks in the shower so we had a good place to hang towels to dry. There were no wet clothes or jackets but they will work well for that too.

I had a 4x6 woven plastic Buc-cees rug that worked well outside the door to help keep the dirt down inside the RV. It is small enough to fit in an outside storage area so that worked well too.

Of course, I also did some rearranging so that I could fit more things in from the kids. I love the large pantry and the fridge and freezer are a decent size. I left some pillows from the couch at home so that three could sit on the couch recliner. We also used the two folding camp chairs inside so we could all sit in the living area. Morgan and Angus like to sprawl wherever they sit so we had to change those habits but we all fit in when we needed to fit.

I did learn one interesting and embarrassing thing the morning I left on the trip. The RV would not start, actually the key would not turn. I tried both of the go. Finally called in hubby. Didn't work for him either. Last try and it turned and started right up. Apparently the steering wheel was locked and DH didn't clue me in on that until today. Yes, he is in trouble.

That's a wrap!

South Rim of the Grand Canyon...The Long Way Around

In my last post, we left the RV park near Zion and headed out. Our original plan was to stay near Jacobs Lake and go up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Due to the Magnum Fire, the North Rim was closed, the area was evacuated, and Hwy 89A was also closed so we headed back around Hwy 89 towards Page AZ. You could easily see the fire as we headed down towards Kanab.

We stopped to pick up take out in Flagstaff and headed out again. Since it was definitely going to be dark by the time we got near the South Rim, we pulled out iOverlander and found a national forest where we could camp just a couple of miles outside of Flagstaff. There were quite a few people near the road end but we decided to just take a spot there instead of looking further into the forest since we would be leaving first thing in the morning. It worked out fine, not real pretty but definitely okay for the night.

The next morning, we reached our destination. iOverlander gave us info about camping in the national forest just outside the South Rim on Jim Long Road. It was an absolutely great spot.

There were other people but very well spaced out, some tents, some trailers, some motorhomes. Steve went ahead of me in the truck and found a nice pull-through area with shade and privacy.

There were a couple fire circles one of which was filled in but no matter as there was definitely a burn ban on for the entire area. We got set, turned on the fantastic fan and opened a couple of windows for Harley and Angus before we
 headed into the park.

First we went to one of the main parking lots near the Visitor's Center. we checked out the information posters with info about the park and hiking.

The Visitor's Center was closed up tight but the gift shop was open. Didn't see any rangers around to answer questions. One poster mentioned some star gazing with a ranger that was going to be done online but the WiFi near the Visitor's Center didn't appear to work.

We headed out behind the Visitor's Center to Mather Point for the first view of the canyon for the rest of the family. I was there once before but once is never enough.  We saw and smelled a lot of smoke as we drove the day before but the wind kept it away from the canyon.

 Yes, they were impressed at the size of things.

There was really nothing else going on near the Visitor's Center other than the gift shop and bicycle rental so we decided to spend the afternoon checking out the east side of the park. We drove as far as we could go which was the last pull off before you get to the tower. It was a shame because the view from the tower area is magnificent even if you can't go up in the tower. You can see the tower below.

We drove to the end first since all the views and pull-offs are on the right side as you come back. Makes it easier to pull off that way.

We hit every stop and the view was always a little different.

 Artist Thomas Moran accompanied John Wesley Powell on his geographic trip to survey the Grand Canyon in 1873. He was very impressed and did numerous sketches and field water colors which he later used to do wonderful paintings back in his studio. He was a premier American painter who inspired western tourism and convinced Congress to establish western national parks. His paintings brought the Grand Canyon to life in an era of black and white photos.

You can see the river far below.

This town was there before the national park. It started out with mining and gradually turned into a place to see the canyon when the mining didn't work out. There was a hotel but it must have been challenging to get to Grandview.

 They went partway down the path.

After we did as much as we could on the east side, we took a drive through the campgrounds. There are two: one with full hookups and one with no hookups. The full hookup campground was about 1/3 full. It was so quiet that this female elk was comfortable right up next to the RVs. The woman in the camper was taking a picture out the window. The campground without hookups had three campers in it. Keep in mind that we were camping quite comfortably without any hookups right by the park. It was really kind of sad to see it. We saw a young ranger and Steve stopped to ask him why there were so very few campers. He said that they only let in those that already had a reservation. Keep in mind that many reservations were cancelled if they started before the park finally opened. The grocery store was open.

As we drove through the park, we saw quite a few female and young elks but no males.

We headed back to the RV for a relaxing dinner and evening. The next morning, I drove the kids and grandkids to Bright Angel Trail where they wanted to hike. I decided to check out the west side of the park while they were hiking so I would know where to take them.  This is the area where they keep the mules that make the trek down into the canyon.

This is one of the lodges. All of the museums were closed but there were people staying in the lodges and cabins. This part of the park was the most busy part!

It was very disappointing to find that the entire west side of the park was closed. During March through October, you have to take a cars allowed.  During the rest of the year, you can drive this part. Very hard to understand why you couldn't drive it now since there were so few visitors at the park. I did take the kids down there later on so they could walk part of the rim as it is different here and the path runs right along the rim.

Most of the following pictures were taken by Steve or Helen on their hike. Normally you would take the shuttle into the area where the hike starts. The shuttles aren't running but they won't let you drive in there anyway. It was blocked off so they had to walk in.

There is actually a trail right behind the "intrepid" hikers.

You can see the trail here.

Look at all the switchbacks! It really wraps around.

Some parts of the path are engineered.

They ran into a mule pack train bringing things up from the bottom of the canyon. This was on a visitors ride but a working group.

The mules always have the right of way so the hikers move to the side.

Morgan made it about halfway and decided to wait until the hikers came back.

That really is the trail they were hiking.

 Fun times with their Dad.

See the little window opening through the rock in the upper left third of the picture? A fitting end to their hike. I came back to pick them up and found a spot open in the viewing area about a half mile from the road entrance where I dropped them off. I got there early but I was afraid to leave because there were cars parked all along the road on both sides as well as completely filling up the little picnic area across the road. A ranger was now stationed at the entrance to the road making sure no one stopped there or tried to drive in. Anyway, they were all tired but had a great time. I took them through the rest of the park up to the road west that was blocked. We managed to find a parking spot so they could at least walk along the rim a little ways before we headed back to the RV to relax and fix dinner.

 After dinner, we decided to head the mile into Tusayon to get some ice cream. The only choice appeared to bedrive through at McDonalds. As we pulled into their parking lot, we saw our first male elk.
 There were actually three of them with huge racks laying or standing around in the empty lot between a hotel and McDonalds.

 They were very unconcerned about the people taking their photos and people were smart enough not to go charging right up to them. They ambled right over through the McDonalds parking lot, around the back, and through an opening into someone's back yard. It was amazing.

The next morning we had breakfast and packed up to leave. We really enjoyed our time here in the national forest.
 Guess who we saw right before we turned off the forest road onto the highway???? Looks like the boys from last night. We stopped for photos and they took their time ambling across towards the national park.

Angus may have thought they were some sort of big strange dogs but he was very interested in checking them out.
Our last view as they ambled off towards the park. It must have been a big boys night out!