Clifford and I returned to Monticello the very end of March after our winter journey to Arizona.
April was a time to catch up with business and time in the lab for Clifford. However, we did have one outing, mostly due to the fact that our Suburban needed to go back to the dealer in Moab to see if they could fix the ongoing problem we’ve had with it.
We found a place to camp along the Colorado River – no small feat! – and then delivered the Suburban to the Chevy dealer.
We were given a ride back to our campsite and for the next week we waited without word and without transportation for our Suburban to be repaired.
In the end we, we got word to them that we couldn’t stay longer: Clifford had suffered a serious health issue and we were also trying to prepare for a trip to Tucson where Clifford would be speaking at a conference.
In spite of the uncomfortable side of the situation, it was also a time of enjoying being camped with a view of the river
and the great red mesas,
and a young oak grove that provided shade so we could sit outside to do some of our work.
Although the Suburban was not repaired, the scenic surroundings were much appreciated as we hung out by the river waiting……..
Thursday March 29: This morning, we – Clifford, Rollie, Ninja, and I – are going to the Grand Canyon National Park, about 12 miles to the west of our boondocking spot on FR 307 off Arizona State Highway 64. I make tea for the thermoses and a picnic lunch, and off we go.
Our first stop is the Visitors Center at Desert View, located at the very east end of the park. We tour the Watchtower, an amazing and beautiful architectural work of art, inside and out. The architect and builder, Mary Colter, was a woman of great vision.
I take photos of the canyon from Desert View. The lighting is not the best, but it is what it is.
After we leave Desert View for more sight-seeing, we stop at a picnic pull-out and enjoy our picnic lunch.
Then we drive on to Grand View Point, hoping to find the Rim Trail so Ninja can get out and walk with us, but no such luck, so he stays in the car.
Next is Yaki Point and we find the Rim Trail. We have an enjoyable hike along the rim before we head back to camp.
Along the way back, we stop to explore other dispersed camping areas on highway 64, but we like the spot where we are the best.
Back at camp, we enjoy a campfire and play music until it gets too chilly.
Then I make dinner for all of us and play a game of cribbage with Rollie. Later Clifford and I have a discussion about ozone and ether, topics of interest in connection with his research. And bed late.
Friday March 30: We are going to the Grand Canyon again this morning, leaving earlier and planning to be back in time for lunch here. No need to make a picnic, and since Rollie is going to buy me a latte at the Desert View Gift Shop&Store, no need for thermoses, either.
At Desert View, as we enjoy our hot beverages, we take more photos and chat with a couple from Pennsylvania.
Today we go to Navajo Point, Lipan Point, and visit the Tusayan Museum.
We take lots of photos at every point and then return to camp in time for peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Easy and tasty!
Rollie and I explore further up the road from where we are camped and find a much larger campsite, one that could work for us in the future, should we come this way again.
We have breakfast burritos for dinner by the campfire, a pleasant and relaxing end to our couple of days here.
Saturday March 31: We start packing as soon as we are up, leaving FR 307 once we are all ready. It has been a good spot, but it really is time for us to get back to Monticello. Rollie is going to caravan with us that far, which will give him a day to relax and get his laundry caught up before he heads on north to Montana.
We backtrack to highway 89, then travel north until we reach the junction with highway 160, which runs east across the northern tier of Arizona.
There are some crazy drivers here, passing when it is not safe to do so. There is a roll-over near Kayenta… not surprisng, but still sad for those involved. There is a long delay before we can go on.
Arriving at the junction to highway 191, we turn north and soon we are in Utah and back to our home base, no longer nomads for the time-being.
It was a lot of miles, with many good camping spots and beautiful places to see, photograph, and hike. Plans are already underway for a trip to Montana in this summer…..
Wednesday March 28: 31 degrees this morning, a bit on the chilly side at our campsite on forest road 525 outside Sedona, Arizona.
Today is moving day; we will be heading north toward southeast Utah. I make tea for the thermoses; Clifford is soon up and we begin packing. Once we are ready to go, we see that our tail lights are not working. It is a blown fuse and replacing the fuse doesn’t help. Rollie helps figure out what is causing the short, and we are soon on our way with Rollie right behind us.
At Sedona we turn southeast at the junction to Arizona State Highway 179 and take this scenic route to the Visitors’ Center/Ranger Station where there are great views of Bell Rock (except for the jet trails which are really not good for photos or our health).
We watch a documentary of this red rock desert area, and then we are on our way.
The landscape changes dramatically once we are heading north on I-17, leaving red-rock country behind. We are headed to Cameron, north of Flagstaff, Arizona, for an overnight stay at a quiet truck stop (yes, this one was quiet the last time we were there), but Clifford sees a sign that indicates that the Grand Canyon is only about 65 miles away, so there is a quick change of plans.
We take the junction to highway 64, which leads to the Grand Canyon from the east. There are a few miles of forest service land between the Navajo reservation and the park boundary, and there we find dispersed camping on forest road 307.
We get set up on a spur road, a pretty spot with junipers and sage, and a small mountain behind us.
We pick up trash and rebuild the fire ring before I make nachos for dinner for all of us. Clifford has a call with his brothers, so I go over to Rollie’s camper for a game of cribbage. Later, back our camper, dishes are done, but I’m too sleepy to write in the journal. Off to bed, happy that we found this nice spot and that we have the Grand Canyon to look forward to.
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.
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,
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.
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.
Monday March 26: It is clear and calm this morning, so we – Clifford, Rollie, and I – decide to go sight-seeing in the Sedona area. By the time we are ready to go — what with showers, breakfast, and making a picnic lunch, then driving to Sedona and finding the recommended scenic road — jet spray has started to mar the sky and the wind is kicking up. In spite of that, we continue as planned.
We go to the Dry Creek View Point, which we find to be very popular, even on a Monday morning, with the trail head parking lot full and cars parked along the road.
Hard to imagine what a weekend would be like. We hike the trail a ways; very scenic, except for the jet trails and haze in the sky. Of course, I take lots of photos anyway and will come up with a few to save.
We also drive out Boyton Road as far as the pass. There are some pull-outs, but way too many people. Really, the weekends must be a bit of a nightmare.
Back in town we go to to the Sedona Community Park for a picnic. It is a nice park, lots of tables with shelters, lawns and great trees… and we almost have the place to ourselves.
On the way back to our camping area on FR 525, we drive the Red Rock Loop Road, which is also very scenic and not nearly the traffic. We stop at a pull-out and hike up a little knoll for a great view of Castle Rock, which was the most interesting part of the outing, in my opinion.
Back at camp, I download photos and then make dinner for all of us. Tidy up the kitchen, but no dishes tonight. A game of cribbage, followed by writing in the journal wraps up the day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.