Canyonlands Here We Come – June 2019

Wednesday June 19: Clifford and I enjoy a leisurely morning with our friends, Kaylee and Ren, who are here visiting us on their way to Arizona in preparation for their upcoming wedding. Clifford and Kaylee work on the Carnicom Institute website, while Ren I visit and drink her delicious coffee substitute.

Even though they have to leave this evening, we decide on an outing to Canyonlands National Park, as Ren has never been there. We are taking the road over Abajo Mountain and our first stop is a viewing area on the far side of the mountain. The wildflowers are in bloom and it is really lovely here on the mountain.

View of LaSal Mountain from Abajo Mountain
Wildflowers on Abajo Mountain
Kaylee and Ren on the sagging bench
The viewing spot on Abajo Mountain – bench to the right looks out to Canyonlands

Our next stop is “Newspaper Rock,” a rock panel covered with petroglyphs. There was vandalism at some point, but the panel has been protected and is in very good condition, for the most part. It is fascinating to look at all the etchings, recognizing what some are and trying to guess at the meaning of others.

Newspaper Rock
Newspaper Rock
View from the parking lot at Newspaper Rock

From there we continue west through BLM land until we arrive at Canyonlands National Park. It was quite warm on the mountain, but much more so here in the lower elevation of the canyons. We stop at the Visitors Center to see the displays, then continue on the scenic loop.

Scenic drive through BLM land toward Canyonlands National Park
It is very surprising to see this pond in the otherwise arid region
Scenic drive through BLM land toward Canyonlands National Park
Iconic formation seen from Needles Visitor Center

We stop at Pothole Point to hike the loop. Even though Clifford and I have hiked this loop before, it seems the cairns have been moved and a portion of the loop is missed. However, it is much too hot to go back and redo it. As it is, we appreciate the unique formations and the shade of rock overhangs.

Kaylee, Ren, and Clifford on the Pothole Point Trail
Looking toward the Needles District from the Pothole Point Trail
Formations seen along the Pothole Point Trail
We missed part of the loop, but too hot to go back
Where did it come from?
Enjoying the shade of an overhang

Our last stop is a side road that gives us a closer view of the iconic Wooden Shoe Arch.

Iconic Wooden Shoe Arch in Canyonlands National Park
Good-bye to Canyonlands for this trip

Back at home base, the guys nap (Kaylee has a long drive ahead yet tonight), while Ren and I chat as she writes wedding invitations and I edit photos. For dinner, we all sit outside at one our bistro tables, enjoying the mild evening temperature. Then our friends finish packing their car and are soon on their way. We wish them well and look forward to seeing them on our journey south next winter.

Canyonlands Needles District – July 2018

Thursday July 5: Today is a playday for us – Clifford, me, and CI webmaster and friend, Kaylee, who has come up from Albuquerque for a CI board meeting, project planning, and web work. We have been working hard on CI projects this week, but decide to take a day off to show Kaylee the countryside.

Our destination is the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, by way of Abajo Mountain. Our first stop is Foy Lake at the crest of the slope we are traversing, as we explore possible camping spots for future reference.

Foy Lake on Abajo Mountain

Our next stop is a Utah State Historical Monument, Newspaper Rock, a 200 square foot cliff wall covered with Native American petroglyphs, created by several ancient cultures beginning about 1,500 years ago. The “drawings” consist of animals, human figures, and many inexplicable symbols. In our travels, this is the most dense display of petroglyphs that we have seen.

Newspaper Rock

A close-up of some of the petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock

Exploring at Newspaper Rock

Clifford and Kaylee chat as they wait for me to take a few more photos

Continuing on highway 211, the journey includes several miles through canyon land under BLM jurisdiction.

BLM land on the route to Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

BLM land on the route to Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

When we arrive at the Needles District Visitors’ Center, we browse briefly, then drive on to view points of interest. Wooden Shoe Arch is a good stop and we linger there a bit.

Wooden Shoe Arch vista point

Other views from the Wooden Shoe Arch pullout

Other views from the Wooden Shoe Arch pullout

Clifford relaxing at the Wood Shoe Arch pullout

Kaylee enjoying the views at the Wooden Shoe Arch pullout

At Pothole Point, we hike the loop trail, which offers views of the remarkable landscape in this part of the park. On the way back, there is a better pullout from which to see the Wooden Shoe Arch, even though it is not marked as such.

Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

Carol on the Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

Badland views from Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

View of the Needles District from the Pothole Point scenic hiking loop

A closer view of Wooden Shoe Arch

Back at home, I download the photos of the day. We visit after dinner, bed time is late, but we all had a very good day, a refreshing break before we carry on with CI business tomorrow.

Jerome, Arizona – Heading North – March 2018

Tuesday March 27: The sky looks better today; it would have been a good day to go sight-seeing and taking photos of the red rocks around Sedona, Arizona. Oh well, hard to know.

I visit Rollie and we look at maps, as Clifford has mentioned going to Jerome while we are here. After breakfast, Rollie and I play music outside in the sunshine; sure nice to be able to do that. The neighbor in the airstream comes over with his guitar and joins us, which is great fun. Afterward, he shows us his airstream – big enough for his wife, four daughters, a big dog, and himself full-time. An airstream sure would be a nice way to go, so well designed to utilize space.

Then we make a trip to Jerome, Arizona, once a mining town on the side of the mountain, now a tourist place.

Main street of Jerome, Arizona, once a mining town, now a busy tourist town.

It was hard to find a place to park, but once we did, there was lots to see and do: we looked inside the old Catholic church,

The old Catholic Church in Jerome, Arizona

went through a museum (guess it is not the main one), popped into a few other shops, and had a tasty lunch at Mile High Cafe. Fun outing.

View from Jerome, Arizona

Heading back to FR 525

Almost looks like rain

Back at camp, as it almost looks like rain, we set up the screen house again and anchor it down so Rollie and I can do music outside even with a breeze and a sprinkle. Another neighbor comes over to take photos of us as we play, and a perky college girl traveling in her car during spring break comes over to chat after she gets her tent set up. Sometimes a village can be quite fun.

I don’t fix dinner tonight, since we had a big lunch in Jerome, but still play a game of cribbage with Rollie before heading into the evening routine and to bed.

Sedona – Heading North – March 2018

Friday, March 23: Today is another travel day; we say good-bye to Agua Fria National Monument and head north on I-17. At Camp Verde, we stop for gas and then continue on state highway 260 to 89a toward Sedona, where Clifford is meeting with environmental activist, Matt Landman.

We find Forest Road 525 south of Sedona, which we learned has dispersed camping. What we didn’t know was how popular this road is. We drive out on FR 525 for several miles, but every pull-out is already occupied. Finally we turn back toward the largest of the pull-outs, just a ways off the highway. Even though there are several other campers already here, the pull-out is spacious and RV’s of all sorts are parked along the perimeter. It is sort of like a little village.

RV Village – we and Rollie are parked left of center

We and Rollie find open spots big enough to pull into without crowding anyone and get set up. There are no trees and we can’t see the red mesas, which this area is famous for, but it is only for a few days, so we will make do.

We set up our screen tent for the first time so Rollie and I have a place to play music a little out of the wind. Later Rollie joins us for dinner and I just barely win a game of cribbage. Too late and too tired to write in the journal tonight.

Saturday, March 24: Chilly and windy this morning with jet trails marring the sky. I have tea with Rollie and after breakfast, we walk up the nearby Ranch Loop Road to check it out for possible future camping spots.

Red rocks, juniper, and meadow grass

It is a scenic walk, red rock, junipers, and meadow grass, but the spots for camping are limited. Then we hike the hill behind the pull-out where we are camped. A good walkabout for us.

After breakfast, Rollie and I play music in the screen tent, but it is too chilly with the wind, so we soon pack up. Just a minute after we move out of the screen tent, a gust of wind causes it to collapse; the tent poles are being seriously bent, and luckily Rollie notices that I need some help releasing the tension before the poles break. We get the tent safely down and pile tables and chairs on it to keep it from blowing away. No time to pack it up now, as we are leaving for Sedona.

Scenic drive to Sedona

We are camped close to Sedona, as Clifford has an interview scheduled with Matt Landman, who has done exceptional work in bringing attention to serious environmental issues. We meet Matt, a young man full of energy and enthusiasm, and watch his documentary “Frankenskies,” a very well-researched presentation of the environmental issue of toxins in the skies. Plans are made for the interview with Clifford tomorrow.

Back at camp, I make breakfast burritos for dinner and nearly get skunked at cribbage with Rollie. I keep planner current, but no time for journal before heading to bed.

Sunday, March 25: Chilly wind this morning, so not spending much time outside. Clifford’s interview is this afternoon, but his only dress shirt is quite wrinkled, so I “iron” it by heating enamel cups on the stove and pressing them against the dampened shirt. Very slow, but it works.

Today I play viola inside; just too windy and chilly outside. I do some editing for Ang, the second book of her “Dragons of Va’ha’den” series. Then off we go to Sedona.

While Clifford has the interview with Matt, Rollie and I go with Matt’s partner Amanda to a cool little organic health food store/eatery and have the best cup of coffee ever! We sit and chat so long that we miss the Farmer’s Market, but instead we go on up the hill to the Buddhist stupa, Amitabha Stupa.

Meandering the scenic trails at Amitabha Stupa

It is very scenic and peaceful, and we take our time wandering about on the trails and pacing around the Buddhist structure at the center of the property.

Buddhist structure at the stupa

After we return to Matt and Amanda’s place, the interview being successful completed, we decide to go to a brewery for pizza and a beer to celebrate the success of the day. The seating for the brewery is in a courtyard and luckily we find seats at the campfire, as the evening is quite chilly. It is really nice to have more time to visit before heading back to camp.

Aqua Fria National Monument – Heading North – March 2018

Wednesday March 21: Clifford had a rough night, but we are still planning on leaving Molino Basin Campground this morning to begin the journey back to Monticello, our Utah home base. Besides the packing up, we – and Rollie – also have to stop for gas, water, and propane. It is early afternoon by time we finally leave Tucson.

Good-bye to the saguaros on Mount Lemmon

So much traffic, but we make it through Phoenix without mishap. We are now on I-17 and take exit 259 to the Agua Fria National Monument, which we learned about from our musician camping friend, Rachel.

Rock formations in Agua Fria National Monument

There is some confusion about which side of the highway we are supposed to be on, and after driving a ways on the road to the west, we backtrack and enter the national monument on the east side of I-17. The road is not great, but we find a spot about a mile from the exit where both we and Rollie can get set up on fairly level ground.

Boondocking in the Agua Fria National Monument

First thing we do after getting set up is pick up trash – lots of it. Ugh. But on the plus side, the ground is strewn with beautiful variegated quartz rocks and other rugged and colorful stones.

Clifford is feeling worse, so goes down for a nap before the propane is turned on. I can’t get fridge or range working, but luckily Rollie comes over and figures out the problem. I have soup with Rollie for dinner, as Clifford is not up to eating tonight.

Thursday, March 22: There was some rain in the night, which seems surprising in this unusually dry desert landscape.

I am up before sunrise, but I left my camera at Rollie’s last night, so miss the shot of the rising sun. I go on to his camper to get the camera and stay to visit a little. Clifford is feeling better this morning, but weak.

After breakfast, Rollie and I go for a hike to the rocky hill top and then beyond to look at the pinkish rocks.

Rollie, Ninja, and I hike to the top of the hill behind our campsites

Pinkish rocks in Agua Fria National Monument

Though the sky is dull overcast, the rocks are still interesting to see

Back at camp, I edit for awhile, then check texts and FB. A couple of my kids call – good that we can get cell service at such a remote location. Later, Rollie and I do music at his camper; too windy outside.

After dinner, we get packed up as much as we can (mostly we had not unpacked at this stop), as we will be heading toward Sedona in the morning. There must be more to see at this national monument, but it will have to wait for another time.


Snyder Hill Days – Winter Journey – February 2018

February 6th-12th

During our days at Snyder Hill BLM, west of Tucson, I go for a hike at sunrise every morning, around the hill and a couple of times to the top of the hill. I especially enjoy seeing the Palo Verde with their chartreuse trunks and branches and the ocotillo with their sparse desert ambiance.

Walking around Snyder Hill

Palo Verde on Snyder hill

View from the top of Snyder Hill. We are the camper right in the middle.

One day we meet our special RV friends for breakfast at a cafe we discovered on McKinney Road.  They were camped close by at Gilbert Ray campground and this cafe is on the route to their next destination. Coyote Pause is a nifty place, a lot of ambiance, good food, with a courtyard of interesting little shops and galleries. We have a good visit, getting to know each other better, and sharing stories about our travels and rock collecting adventures.

Coyote Pause for breakfast with our special RV friends

Nifty location with a courtyard and little shops

Coyote Pause: good food, good service, and good conversation with our friends

A couple days later, for my birthday, I treat Clifford to breakfast at Coyote Pause. After a very good meal, we browse through the shops in the courtyard there. An artist’s gallery is filled with beautiful artwork of all sorts and I buy a couple of small prints depicting the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. We also explore Buffalo Trader and Clifford buys me a very colorful pair of pants, light and loose, which will be great in hot weather.

Carol’s birthday

I especially enjoy the evenings when the last rays of the sun light up Snyder Hill with a warm golden glow.

Golden glow on Snyder Hill

We are greatly disappointed to learn that a wildfire in the Dragoon Mountains, which was to be our next destination, will prevent our camping there. The day before we are scheduled to leave, however, we receive word that the evacuation order will be lifted in time for us to go there as planned. Hooray!

Sunset from our campsite at Snyder Hill





Arizona Desert Days – January 2018

Sunday January 28: We are still camped at Roadrunner, the BLM campground south of Quartzsite, Arizona.  It is calm this morning, so I make a campfire and Rollie comes over to join me. We chat as we drink our respective hot drinks.

Campfire and our respective hot drinks

I was going to sit out after the campfire to write in my journal, but the wind comes up and I head inside.

In the evening, Rollie and I do music at his place, as it is too windy outside.

Monday January 29: Today is an errand trip to Parker for the things that we can’t do in Quartzsite, which takes a good chunk of the day. When we get back to camp, Clifford and I have leftovers for dinner. Rollie has already eaten with Bill and Sally, but he comes over for tea. While we are sitting out, Clifford spots the exotic lights that we have seen before in the desert. They are still a mystery.

Tuesday January 30: I take photos of a colorful sunrise,

Colorful sunrise. Little dots at bottom are campers: Rollie& Ninja on the left, Carol & Clifford center, Bill & Sally to the right


Vivid color every direction

then join Rollie at a campfire and write in my journal while he plays mandolin.

Campfire and journal while Rollie plays mandolin

Later, I send another set of edits to Ang and re-send agent letters, as she has had some problem with opening them. Internet communication is sometimes very iffy, both on my side and hers.

Later we all have dinner at Bill’s; he enjoys barbecuing and I am happy to contribute something other than the meat. Another campfire and music outside this evening. Not bad for a January evening.

Send cell pics to my girls. Staying in touch with my kids is important to me and really appreciate calls and texts from them. The cell phone has been/is vital for communication with all these dear ones.

Wednesday January 31: I am up early enough to get a few photos of the Super Blue Blood Lunar Eclipse. It was neat to see it, but my photos are not terrific.

Super blue blood lunar eclipse

This morning we all head out to Crystal Hill in the Kofa Wildlife Refuge south of Roadrunner for some hiking and rock-hounding.

View as we drive to Crystal Hill

This time I head down the wash and start looking at the west end slope of the hill. It is not so picked over here and I find a nice crystal as well as many beautiful quartz stones.

Crystal Hill west slope

Crystal found at Crystal Hill

Bill decides to go back to camp as the big dogs are restless, making it hard to search for crystals. Sally wants to stay, so she joins me on the west slope. We have a good time chatting as we look for crystals until Clifford and Rollie are ready to go. Back at camp, we all contribute our picnic food to lunch at Bill and Sally’s.

Since my laptop has been charged and the hotspot is working, I take care of email, FB, and editing this afternoon. I finish out my day with writing in planner and journal before heading to bed. Clifford continues with his ham radio experiments late into the night… and thus we wrap up January 2018.

End of Quartzfest – Quartzsite, Arizona – January 2018

Thursday January 25: I put the files for the Quartzfest photo contest on a flash drive, and Clifford and I drop them off at the Event Center on our way to Quartzsite for errands. Just the usual errands, except that we also go to La Mesa RV and look at trailers there. It is an info-gathering stop. They do not have much of a selection in the size that would work for us, but it was fun to look. 

Looking at trailers at La Mesa RV

We are in a thinking mode about how we might make a better arrangement for Clifford’s research while we are on the road. He does a lot as it is, but a dedicated space would be an improvement.

Friday January 26:

This morning after tea with Rollie, we walk down to the Welcome Center to vote on the photos in the photo contest. I see that I have two photos in the Nature category and one in the Technical category that have made it to the finals and are posted on the bulletin board.

Rollie and Ninja

Today I work on agent letters and prepare another page of edits for Ang’s “Dragons of Va’Ha’Den” fantasy series. My son Fin sends a short video, via FB messenger, of himself, his wife Mandy, and baby Mollie. So great to see them! It would be wonderful if they could come to the States for a visit.

We have stir-fry and rice for dinner and while we eat, Rollie tells us stories about his time in Kentucky and in the army. So much of his life I am unfamiliar with. It is good that we are getting to know each other a bit more as we travel together here.

Saturday January 27: Thirty-four degrees and a chilly wind this morning when I walk down to the Welcome Center to get catalogs and look at the swap meet. Later we all go down for the Closing Ceremony. Lots of items are given away during the drawings. The most fun is the photo contest results: I take first place in Nature, first place in Technical, and the Grand Prize, overall. I am quite pleased!

First place – Technical

First place – Nature and overall Grand Prize

Before the Closing is finished, we get word that Cousin Bill and his wife Sally are on their way to camp with us again and will be here shortly. Rollie volunteers to get his S10 and lead them in through the maze of RV’s where there was virtually nothing but open desert when they were here before.

This afternoon Amateur Radio Winter Field Day begins, which, although not part of Quartzfest, wraps of the week of concentrated ham radio for Clifford.

Off-Road Adventure – Quartzsite, Arizona – January 2018

Wednesday January 24: This morning I am up in time to get dressed, have breakfast, make a lunch, and head to the Welcome Center with Rollie by 9:00 a.m., as we are going on the Quartzfest off-road trip. We are planning on riding with someone else, as Rollie is not sure his S10 is appropriate for the off-road trip and Clifford is not planning on going; Suburban might not be ideal, either.

At the Welcome Center we see the line-up of vehicles; even though most of them are jeep-type vehicles, there are a few nice SUV’s that look a bit out of place, so Rollie asks the trip leader if his S10 is okay, and yes it is. So Rollie heads back to the campsite to get Ninja (who would otherwise have had to stay home all day) and his little pickup and we join the line-up. I count about 35 vehicles and we are somewhere in the middle.

The line-up heads south on 95, then off on a gravel road between the Crystal Hill Road and the Palm Canyon Road.

Heading toward the Kofa Mountains

Today we are heading into the northern end of the Kofa Mountains. After a few miles, we turn off the gravel onto a dirt road that winds around a rugged desert landscape, down and up rocky arroyos; a road of some sort, but quite gnarly in spots. I ask Rollie if he and the S10 are okay. He is having a great time pretending that S10 is a rugged little jeep and that it can go anywhere that the others can!

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge

I take photos from the open passenger window as best I can, given that there is not a smooth moment anywhere.

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge

We make a couple of stops – scenic spots, including a hidden springs, for people to walk about a bit, and a longer stop for lunch in a beautiful desert canyon. Rollie and I find a couple of right-size rocks to sit on to eat lunch and relax.

Different type of tree grows at a hidden springs in the Kofa Wildlife Refuge

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge. View from the picnic lunch stop

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge. An arch is sighted

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge. Rugged mountains!

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge. Closer view of the ruggedness

Off-road adventure – the Kofa Wildlife Refuge

On the way back to camp, since the group is out of time for a stop at Crystal Hill, Rollie and I go there on our own.

Heading toward Crystal Hill

It is a fun place to hike a bit while looking for crystals and beautiful quartz pieces. We would have stayed longer, but Rollie is planning on heading to Quartzsite tonight for a music jam.

Back at camp, we have dinner, then Rollie heads to town while Clifford and I catch up on our day’s activities. I pick and edit photos for the Quartzfest photo contest, including a couple from our trip today. It sure was a fun day, but the outing tired me out and after sending pics to my girls, I to head to bed.

Quartzfest at Roadrunner – Winter Journey – January 2018

Friday January 19: Warm, sunny, and windy. Talked to my daughter Becka in Georgia. It is in the teens there and icy, so school has been canceled most of the week. Cold in Florida, also. As I talk to her, I walk about collecting rocks to make a fire ring.

Today is Clifford’s birthday and I give him an IOU for pizza at Dion’s when we make it to Santa Fe.

Rollie is at the bluegrass festival in Blythe. It is quite windy there, also, but he is enjoying the music.

Saturday January 20: Very windy in the night and we are up at 5:00 a.m. because one of the antenna lines has come loose and is slapping against the side of the camper. We fix it and then go back to bed. By time we get up, the little patio tarp that Clifford put up yesterday has blown down.

It is still windy with the slightest bit of rain – 42 drops, as Rollie would say – as I walk to the Event Center to sign us in for Quartzfest.

42 drops of rain as I walk to the Event Center

Later in the day, in spite of the wind, I do a walkabout for more rocks and take a few photos.

Sunset colors

Sunday January 21: Today’s temperature: 36/60, which is cooler than we’ve seen for awhile and so windy that I don’t even go for a morning walkabout. Plenty of inside things to do: Morse code, journal, cell pics text to kids, edit “Kings and Keepers” for Ang. Clifford and I talk about options for a mobile lab so Clifford can do more with his research while we are on the road. He has been working on the Carnicom Legacy Project, but today he is focused on his ham radio.

In the afternoon, we walk down to the Event Center for Quartzfest Opening Ceremony, a rather chilly walk.

Pretty day in spite of the chilly breeze

Dinner inside this evening, as there will be no eating at a campfire on these windy chilly days.

Monday January 22: Mostly sunny today, but a very chilly breeze. I go for a desert walk at sunrise for my quiet time, glad to get back to the warmth of the camper.

Vibrant sunrise colors

Mid-morning, I walk to the Event Center for the photography class, somewhat similar presentation as last year. Then back to the camper. Clifford is back and forth, also, going to radio/antenna focused presentations.

Text from Rollie. He is on his way to Roadrunner and will be here soon. I walk out to the host station to wait for him, as the huge number of RV’s here for Quartzfest has totally changed the landscape and he might not know where to find us. The hosts are not on duty due to the government shut-down. I sit and knit until Rollie arrives, then guide him through the maze of RV’s.

Maze of Quartzfest RV’s where it was just open desert before

While Rollie gets set up, Clifford and I make a run to Quartzsite for supplies and to pick up mail. Back at camp, Rollie and Ninja come over to have dinner with us.

Tuesday January 23: Blue sky and merely breezy today. A desert walk at sunrise starts my day.

Waiting for the sunrise

And the sun makes his appearance – the daily miracle that we take for granted

After breakfast, Clifford, Rollie, and I go to the RV show to look at RV’s. There is a very limited number of trailers of a size and weight that will work for us. This show is definitely catering to the BIG RV crowd. We do like one called “Retro” with its well-designed space and lighter weight.


But this is a just-for-fun looking trip for us. Rollie is looking at motorhomes, definitely in the soon-to-purchase mode. We also walk through the Big Tent, which is designed to entice folks into buying something – anything – from jewelry to RV solar systems.

Back at camp, we have a quick lunch and then Rollie and I go to the pre-hootenany gathering. It is too cool in the shade for me and too hot in the sun for the guitar, but still kind of fun. Clifford is attending some presentation, also.

We have an early dinner before heading to Quartzsite for a bluegrass concert by Hardshell Harmony at Quartzsite Improvement Association venue. It is a good concert, but late by time we get home. Off to bed at midnight, feeling a bit run-down. I think the chilly dry wind is disturbing to my vata, was well as staying up too late.