Heading East – Part 2

Gaffney, SC

In our last post we described our trip east from Nevada to Amarillo, TX.  After a two night stay there we continued east, taking US 287 to Wichita Falls, TX.   When we arrived we decided to visit the falls we assumed to be in the city.  Unfortunately, a flood in 1886 destroyed the original falls on the Wichita River for which the city was named.  After nearly 100 years of visitors wanting to visit the nonexistent falls, the city built an artificial waterfall beside the river in Lucy Park.  The recreated falls are 54 feet high and recirculate at 3,500 gallons per minute. They are visible to south-bound traffic on Interstate 44.

We stayed the night just north of the falls in a little city park called Wichita Bend RV Park  where we had water and electric for $17 a night.  We intended to spend an afternoon touring the city and hiking in nearby Lucy Park, but high temperatures and oppressive humidity cancelled both activities.  It turns out that Wichita Falls has a humid subtropical climate with some of the highest summer daily maximum temperatures in the entire country outside of the desert southwest.

Wichita Bend RV Park

The next day we continued east on US 82 to Texarkana, a small town that straddles the state line between Texas and Arkansas, and spend the night at a nice little park called Shady Pines RV.  The following morning we headed south on I-49, skirted around Shreveport, LA, and got on I-20.  After crossing the Mississippi we stopped at the Ameristar RV Park on the south side of Vicksburg, MS.

We stayed there for two nights to allow for a tour of the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Entrance to the military park

Vicksburg sits high on a bluff that at one time overlooked the Mississippi River, making it a key spot in the control of river traffic.  A flood in 1876 changed the course of the river to the west, leaving the main part of the city sitting on the much smaller Yazoo River.  But at the time of the Civil War whoever controlled Vicksburg controlled traffic on the river.  By late spring of 1863 the city was the last section of the Mississippi under the control of the Confederacy.  Union General Grant moved his army down the river and surrounded the city.  He tried repeatedly to take Vicksburg by force without success.  So he changed strategy and set up a siege, intending to starve the city into surrender.  After holding out for more than forty days, with their reinforcement and supplies nearly gone, the Confederate garrison finally surrendered on July 4th, the same day Robert E. Lee began retreating from Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.

Illinois Monument

Below is a photo of what’s known as the surrender interview site, where Union General Grant and Confederate General Pemberton sat on the afternoon of July 3, 1863 to negotiate terms of a surrender.

Surrender Interview Site

At the north end of the military park sits the remains of the ironclad gunboat USS Cairo.  On December 12, 1862, while clearing mines from the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg, the Cairo struck a naval mine detonated by volunteers hidden behind the river bank and sank in 12 minutes. There were no casualties.

Over the years the gunboat was forgotten and was slowly covered by silt and sand.  Researchers from the military park found the remains in 1956.  In 1960 many artifacts were recovered from the ship including the pilothouse and an 8-inch cannon, both preserved by the Yazoo River mud.

The ship was raised out of the river in the mid 1960 and towed to a shipyard on the coast.  In 1977 it was moved to its present location and a small museum was constructed to display the many items found in it during recovery.

While structural integrity required the use of new lumber in some areas, much of the wood is original.

Model of the Cairo in the museum

Bottles found in the wreckage

Vicksburg National Cemetery, located next to the Cairo Museum,  holds the remains of 17,000 Civil War Union soldiers.  Confederate dead from the Vicksburg campaign originally buried behind Confederate lines, have now been re-interred in the Vicksburg City Cemetery.

After touring the military park we drove downtown to the waterfront along the Yazoo River.  There a flood wall built on top of a levee has been decorated by a series of murals that highlight the history of Vicksburg.

After two nights in Vicksburg our journey continued on I-20 east across Mississippi into Alabama.

We stayed two nights in Sunset RV Park, just east of the city of Tuscaloosa.  We stayed there under a black cloud, literally!  A number of times while there, a storm would bubble up right over us and it would rain hard for a short time.  Drive a mile or so in any direction and the roads were completely dry.  With the extreme heat and humidity there we experience something we haven’t seen in a while (since we have been out west), steam rising from the park roads.

A steamy day

The next day we drove about 15 miles south of Tuscaloosa to visit the Moundville Archaeological Site on the Black Warrior River.  Extensive archaeological investigation has shown that the site was the political and ceremonial center of a regionally organized Mississippian culture chiefdom between the 11th and 16th centuries.  The archaeological park portion of the site is administered by the University of Alabama Museums.  It encompasses 185 acres with platform mounds around a rectangular plaza.  At its height, the population is estimated to have been around 1000 people within the walls, with 10,000 additional people in the surrounding countryside.

Mound B, the highest at 58 feet

The Jones Archaeological Museum, located within the site, houses an extensive collection of pottery and artifacts from the early inhabitants.

Jones Archaeological Museum

Bird/Serpent Effigy Bowl

The main attraction in Tuscaloosa is the campus of the University of Alabama.  Normally when we visit a university like this we ride our bikes through the campus.  But we left the bikes back in Boulder City as we need the space to bring back the contents of a storage unit we have in Pennsylvania.  And since it was much too warm to walk, we had to be content with a drive through the campus.  We were quite impressed with the beautiful campus (although it was difficult to get a good photo from inside the Jeep).

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa River Walk

Next we continued on I-20 east to Atlanta to spend a few day with our son, Kevin.

Approaching Atlanta

One of the fun activities we did during our stay in Atlanta was to go to Top Golf.  Top Golf is a high tech driving range with locations in major cities across the country.  The way it works is you pay an hourly fee ($35-$45) for a table with multiple seats and a golf tee area similar to a traditional driving range.  Each ball has a computer chip in it that gives you feedback if you hit it into one of the many green sized circles located at various distances in front of the tees.  An interactive screen allows you to choose from a variety of games and keeps your score.  They have a full menu and bar so your group can enjoy drinks and a meal while you play.  We had a great time and plan to check out the Top Golf location in Las Vegas when we get back west.

Related image

Kevin took a few golf lessons years back when he was a lawyer but has never played on a course.  We were impressed with his good form and he hit the ball very well.

Great form for a non-golfer!

This guy has played before

We have now moved north to Gaffney, SC to have the motorhome’s annual service completed.  Gaffney is the home of Freightliner, the manufacturer of the chassis on most motorhomes, and is known as the best place in the east coast to have work completed.

Beautiful Freightliner RV Resort and Spa

We called for an appointment months ago but they are so popular that nothing was available.  But they do allow for non-appointment walk-ins, so that is what we are going to do.  Since they will fit us in as time allows. our stay here may be short or it may be long.  We’ll just have to be patient and see what happens.

More on that later . . .

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Heading East

Amarillo, TX

As much as we were enjoying spending time in our home in Boulder City the past two months, it was soon time to head east in the motorhome.   We headed out on the first of June taking US 93 south to Kingman, AZ where we picked up I-40 east.  We completed two long travel days (about 350 miles each) with stops overnight in Holbrook, AZ and Santa Rosa, NM.   Those drives were too long so we cut down our drive on the third day to 150 miles and settled in at the Oasis RV Park, just outside Amarillo, TX.  We took a site for two nights to give us a chance to rest a bit and check out an interesting state park nearby.

Oasis RV Park near Amarillo, TX

The first thing you see when you enter this RV park is a motorhome buried nose-first in the ground.

That’s because just a couple of miles from the park, along the south side of I-40, is a weird roadside attraction called Cadillac Ranch.

Cadillac Ranch was invented and built in 1974 by a group of art-hippies from San Francisco.  They called themselves The Ant Farm, and their silent partner was Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh.  He wanted a piece of public art that would baffle the locals, and the hippies came up with a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin.  Ten Caddies were driven into one of Stanley Marsh’s fields, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high.

The Cadillacs have now been in the ground as art longer than they were on the road as cars. They are stripped to their battered frames, splattered in day-glo paint, barely recognizable as automobiles.  We found the site to be less than interesting (the cars are unrecognizable and the place is covered with old spray paint cans since the public is invited to paint the cars) but other visitors seemed to be quite impressed.

Sue and Dave (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) have stayed in this area before and told us about an interesting little state park just south of the city.  We drove about 20 miles south of Amarillo over flat, open prairie before arriving at a deep canyon called Palo Duro.

Palo Duro Canyon (from the Spanish meaning “hard wood”) has been called  the “Grand Canyon of Texas” both for its size and for its dramatic geological features, including the multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls similar to those in the Grand Canyon.  It’s the second-largest canyon in the United States and is roughly 120 miles long and has an average width of six miles. The average depth is around 820 feet, but in some locations it increases to 1,000 feet.

The canyon is now a Texas state park that contains campgrounds, hiking trails, a visitor center, and a beautiful amphitheater.  A ranger at the visitor center gave us information on a nice two mile round trip hike that would give us a great view of the canyon.

We drove about a mile from the visitor center and parked along the side of the rode at a trailhead for the CCC Trail (The Great Depression era CCC built the visitor center and many of the park’s trails).

The winding park road below the trail

Small trail guide (he tried to sell us some insurance)

Canyon walls are quite colorful

End of the trail

The Pioneer Amphitheater below us

The park has a performance called “Texas” that is put on in the amphitheater Tuesdays through Sundays in the summer.  The program features the stories, struggles and triumphs of early settlers. It is described as a family-friendly show that has singing, dancing, fireworks and lots of Texas humor!

Returning to the Jeep we drove the four mile loop road through the bottom of the canyon, enjoying the beautiful features along the canyon walls.

Large opening of a shallow cave

We returned to Amarillo and stopped at the Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum.  The museum is located as part of the Jack Sisemore Traveland RV dealership.  Housed in a building behind the dealership showroom, this free museum has an impressive collection of vintage RVs.

For our Airstream friends…The World’s Oldest Airstream

One of the displays was a Starcraft pop-up camper similar to the one we owned in the mid-1980s.

After a long day of touring we needed a good meal, so we stopped at the Big Texas Steak Ranch for dinner.

The Big Texas Steak House is known for the 72 Oz. Steak Challenge.  Take the challenge and you pay $72 for a 72 oz. steak, shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, with roll and butter.  Finish your meal completely within one hour and your money will be refunded.  Contestants sit at a raised table with a digital clock behind them.  During our visit one young man began the challenge.  We didn’t hang around long enough to see if he survived.

The next day we continued our journey eastward with stops in Wichita Falls and Texarkana in Texas.  We’re now in Vicksburg, MS to tour the site of a famous battle and siege during the Civil War.

More on that later (if the heat and humidity doesn’t get to us first!) . . .

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Enjoying Boulder City

Boulder City, NV

It’s been a while since our last post, but we’ve been busy settling in to our new home in Boulder City.  The photo below shows one of our favorite activities here.

Both of our children have flown out from the east coast to visit and check out our new place.  Kevin was first, flying in from Atlanta for a couple of days.  During his visit we drove down to see Boulder Dam from the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge.

John and Kevin head out on the bridge

Great view of the dam and Lake Mead from the bridge

We also spend some quality time hanging around the pool.

Years of training went into this scene!

After Kevin headed back to Atlanta we spent a couple of mornings hiking in the nearby River Mountains.  While hiking near Railroad Pass we finally spotted our first Desert Tortoise.

Later in the week we hiked up to nearby Black Mountain, which has a great view from its peak.

The trail winds up a series of steep switchbacks

At the top of Black Mountain you can see Las Vegas to the west, Boulder City below you to the south, and Lake Mead to the east.

Looking west at Las Vegas

Boulder City to the south

Lake Mead to the east

On the hike up to the top we saw some Bighorns grazing on the hillside.  On the way down the herd was feeding on both sides of the trail.  They seemed content with us passing them, but they are still wild animals so we proceeded with caution.

Fellow hikers on the trail

As we passed by we spotted two little ones romping around near their mother just above us.

Each keeps a close eye on the other one!

One of the neat things about the west is the ability to find hot temperatures and cool temperatures within a relatively short distance.  One day temperatures in the Las Vegas valley were predicted to be in the 100s, while just a few miles to the northwest temps on  Charleston Peak were to be in the 70s.  There are many hiking trails up there, so one morning we headed out to enjoy a hike and some cool temps.

Driving through a desert with snow-covered Charleston Peak in the distance

Charleston Peak is commonly called Mt. Charleston.  At 11,916 feet of elevation it is the highest mountain in both the Spring Mountains and Clark County and is the eighth-highest mountain in the Nevada.  The village of Mount Charleston lies at its base to the east.  We opted to hike the Cathedral Rock Trail, which starts in a parking area on the south side of the village.

The trail is a 2.7 mile out and back hike with an elevation gain of almost a thousand feet.

Our lunch spot high above us!

The hike is a steady climb from the moment you leave the trailhead on a very rocky trail, but there are strategically placed benches along the way with some great views.

Made it to the top!

Once at the peak we enjoyed great views of the mountains all around us and Kyle Canyon a thousand feet below.

Lunch with a view

After enjoying a cool (literally) lunch at the peak, we made our way down and drove back into the heat of the desert.  Below are two photos of the dash thermometer in the Jeep.  It was 75 at Mt. Charleston.  Forty miles later we were driving through Las Vegas where the temperature was 103!

We were recently treated to a visit by our daughter, Jessica, who flew in from Pennsylvania to check out the new house.

As a little girl she loved to swim in a pool so we finally got one for her, albeit a little late.  Nevertheless, she enjoyed it as an escape from the 100+ temperatures we had during her brief stay.

One morning she was up early and off for a 10 mile run (part of a training plan for an upcoming race).  She decided that her reward for the long effort would be to jump in the pool with her running clothes on.

Experiencing some second thoughts . . .

. . . but here we go!

A few days after Jessica’s departure we drove about 70 miles north to Valley of Fire State Park.  We had not seen our friends Howard and Linda (RV Dreams Journal) in a few year as we have mainly been in the west and they have mainly been in the east.  They’re now here in the west and so when they invited us up to one of our favorite parks for a hike, we headed north on a beautiful Sunday morning.

We’ve stayed in this park two times in the past and hiked most of the set trails.  But it is more interesting here to just park and head out among the rocks to explore.  The previous day Howard and Linda had done just that.  We were so impressed with the photos they posted we asked if they would lead us through the same route.

After meeting them in the campground and getting a tour of their beautiful new Winnebago Aspect 27K, we jumped into the Jeep and headed deeper into the park for our hike.

Their new home

No matter how many times we visit here we still find the views stunning.  Howard lead us through the rocks as we soaked in the colors.

See the faces?

As we passed through a narrow wash a hummingbird seemed particularly anxious about our presence.

Linda’s sharp eyes spotted the cause of the bird’s anxiety in a nearby bush, a small nest with two tiny eggs.  After a quick look we moved on, allowing the mother some relief.

Linda, John, and Howard

For the most part, the “trail” was pretty tame, but there were a few challenging spots.

Young couple out for a stroll

We’ve really enjoyed our two month stay here in Boulder City.  But the temperature is on the rise and we’re getting the urge to get back on the road for a bit.  So our plan is to leave here the first of June and head east.  Our first objective is Atlanta for a visit with Kevin.  We’ll then head north into South Carolina with a stop at the Freightliner Service Center in Gaffney to have the coach serviced.  Then we’ll continue north to York, PA for a couple of weeks to visit Jessica and her husband Dan, and step-daughter Ella and complete some yearly medical visits.  We also want to empty a small storage shed rented in York and bring the contents to Boulder City.  We have emptied almost everything out of the motorhome storage bays to make room for everything.

Once all that is completed we’ll head up to New York State for a visit with Dave, Sue, and Lewis (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) at their beautiful spot along one of the Finger Lakes.  We’ll leave the motorhome there while we drive up to Clayton, NY for a visit with Pam’s mother.

More on all that later . . .

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Enjoying a New Ride

Boulder City, NV

For many years before we retired we enjoyed touring the country on a 1999 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.  When we went full time in the motorhome, we purchased a trailer that would accommodate the bike and a car (front wheels on the trailer, rear wheels on the road).

We enjoyed the bike but found that we were not riding it much during our travels.  We also found that using the trailer was a bit of a hassle (take the car off, take the bike off, move the hitch to the car, move the trailer, etc.).  So in 2012 we sold the bike and trailer and bought our Jeep.  We always wanted a Jeep but since the manufacturer states not to tow a Wrangler with two wheels off the pavement, we couldn’t have one.  Once the bike and trailer were sold we were off to the Jeep dealer.  While we missed the bike, we loved the Jeep and the ease of towing it.

But we always said that if we ever bought another house, we would buy another bike.  When we bought the house in Boulder City recently, we decided to wait until the Fall to look for one since we would be traveling all summer (and will not take the bike with the motorhome).  But remember how quickly we found this house the first day we looked?  The same thing happened with the bike.  We were driving through Boulder City on our way to one of those chain coffee shops headquartered in Seattle when what do we see parked in an empty lot with a For Sale sign on it?  The exact bike we were looking to purchase in the Fall.  The next day we met with the seller (also a Boulder City resident) and struck a deal.  After a fun visit to the Nevada DMV for registration and four days from the time we first saw it, we were touring the shores of Lake Mead on our new ride!

It’s a 2010 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic, almost identical (except the color and some improvements made by H-D) to the one we previously owned.

Our first ride on the new bike was along the west side of Lake Mead on Lakeshore Road.  This road runs for 14 miles from US 93 near Boulder City (and Hoover Dam) to an intersection where it becomes Lake Mead Parkway.  Continue on the parkway and you end up in Henderson.  We turned right and headed north on  Northshore Road (NV 168), which continues north another 55 miles to the small town of Overton, 10 miles south of its termination at I-15.

The road to Overton is one of the nicest motorcycle rides we have ever done.  The smooth road winds its way through colorful hills with stunning views all along the way.

Our goal was to visit Valley of Fire State Park, south of Overton, to do some hiking.  But rain clouds to the north made us change our plans and stop at Redstone Trailhead,  a small area of red rocks with a paved parking area and picnic area (with toilets).

We hiked the half mile loop trail that goes around a major formation of red sandstone.

Looking west from the trail

A little wildlife along the trail

Friends, Steve and Joan (FOSJ), are nearing the end of their volunteer assignment at nearby Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Since they also have a motorcycle, we contacted them and arranged a ride up the same roads on Sunday, this time continuing all the way north to Overton for breakfast.

We took a short break at Redstone, where we had hiked two days earlier

Although we had ridden this route just two days earlier, the scenery is so stunning you could drive it every day and see something new every trip.

After a couple of days riding our new toy it was time to get some work completed.  The motorhome was in need of some cleaning, as it had not been washed since January.  With no significant rain since then the dust was building up.  Then we had driven on some wet roads leaving Bluff, which always sprays dirt all over the sides.  The roof over our RV space is not quite high enough to comfortably wash the roof of the RV (unless you enjoy crawling on hands and knees) so we pulled the motorhome out to the street so John could get up there with the hose.

With the front wheels at the curb the back is still just under the cover, so a little crawling is needed to get up on top.

Once the roof was washed, we put the motorhome back under the roof so John could wash the rest of it out of the bright sunlight.  Some extensive cleaning is now on the schedule as we prepare for our upcoming summer travels.

But until then we will still find time to explore the area, with some hiking and biking on the agenda.  More on that later . . .

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A Little Hiking Near Lake Mead

Boulder City, NV

We are slowly settling in to our new home here in Boulder City.  Since we purchased the house furnished, the move-in has not been very difficult.  The biggest change for us is living with all this space!

We did manage to get out for a couple of hikes during our first week here, one we did on our first visit to the area and one was new to us.  The first was a hike out to the Liberty Bell Arch.  The trail for this hike begins as an offshoot on the trail for the Arizona Hot Springs.  To get to the trail we drove south on US 93 into Arizona.  A bit over three miles south of the Colorado River there is a clearly marked left turn into a parking area for the Arizona Hot Springs trail.

The Arizona Hot Springs trail begins by going under US 93 following a wash.

It begins in loose sand, but soon goes through a narrow section of sandstone.

Less than a mile down the wash there is a sign posted up on the right (north) side of the wash directing you to the trail to the arch.  This is a new sign since our last visit.  We missed this turn the first time we tried to find the arch so the new sign is a welcome addition.

Sign for the Liberty Bell Trail

The trail to the arch winds up a small wash and joins an old, narrow road that leads to an old mine site.

Can you see the nimble hiker coming up the Brittlebush lined trail?

As the trail passes the old mine we could see the rock containing the arch in the distance.  You can’t tell it’s an arch from this side view, but we knew what it was from our previous visit.

As we continued up the trail we could see the hole creating the arch come into view.

But you have to hike past the arch and look back at it to really see where it gets its name.

Beautiful views in each direction

We continued past the arch for another mile until we reached the summit of Black Canyon  where we were treated to a great view of the Colorado River below us.

Looking to the north we could see the The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge that takes US 93 over the Colorado River just south of Hoover Dam.  Lake Mead is just over the peaks by the bridge.

A little color at the summit

Lunch with a view

A few days later we decided to take a short hike up a canyon just past the entrance to Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Once through the entrance we drove .9 miles and turned left (west) on a maintained dirt road.  Just a half mile in front of us we could see an old water tank where we knew to park the Jeep.

Looking to the west we could see a gate that blocked the road into a gravel pit.  We knew the hike would take us up the wash to the right of the pit into a canyon.

The canyon is called Seven Falls Canyon.  The hike is an off-trail scramble into the River Mountains through a deep and narrow canyon blocked by seven pour-overs or “seven falls.”  The exact number of pour-overs depends on how each is counted, but regardless, this canyon makes for a good scramble on volcanic rock.

Heading up the wash into the canyon

The canyon walls were very colorful in spots

Things quickly become a bit difficult

Looking for a “go around” trail at a pour-over

We hiked up the canyon for about two miles before coming to a difficult pour-over, where we decided to turn around.  As we came up the canyon we spotted a group of Big Horns dining on the north side.

They kept a sharp eye on us as we went by.  On the return trip back down the wash they continued to eyeball us.

I see you down there!

We really enjoy driving the highways in the west, taking in all the beautiful vistas.  To enhance the experience we purchased a new vehicle to travel on.  We’ll describe this in more detail in our next blog.

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Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 3 of 3

Bluff, UT

Toward the end of our week in Bluff we headed back up on Cedar Mesa to explore Shieks Canyon.  To get to the trailhead you follow the directions to the more popular Bullet Canyon Trailhead (between mm 21 and mm 22 on UT 261).  Once at that trailhead, continue following the maintained dirt road (it turns right at the trailhead) for another mile and a half.  At the “T” in the road turn left for another mile to the parking area.

It is a bit confusing at this point because the road continues, but a small sign said to park behind the sign due to road damage.  When we hiked the road we found that we could have continued in the Jeep for another half mile to where the road ends.

The actual trailhead is not well-defined, as cattle have grazed here so there are trails all over the place.  The best thing to do is just follow the road to the end, where the actual trail veers off to your left.  But we hiked what looked to be a main trail until we came to the edge of the canyon.  OK, so how do we get down the steep cliff?  We flipped a coin and turned to our right.  After hiking about a half mile without success we flipped that coin again and hiked back to the left.  A short distance from where we first came to the canyon (and two miles later), we found the trail going down into it.  Just a short distance down into the canyon we came to the ruins we were seeking.

Yellow House Ruins above

The Yellow House Ruins site holds three structures, the largest being a semi-circular, yellow walled dwelling with a perfect, original and unrestored ceiling made of large logs crossed by smaller sticks at right angles.  The gaps are filled with adobe.  The ties are made from the Yucca plant.

The yellow ties are in fine shape

We hiked further down the canyon but found it to be rough going.  Our legs were a bit tired from a long hike the previous day and the search for the canyon, so we decided to turn around and return to the Jeep.  Another 2.5 miles down to the bottom of the canyon is the Green Mask Ruin.  We’ll try that another time.

The trail is a bit challenging

Our final day in Bluff was Founder’s Day, a celebration of the arrival of Mormon pioneers who arrived to settle the town in April of 1880.  One of the events was a parade through town.  Although small in numbers, the participants (many were relatives of the original settlers) were very enthusiastic.

The organizers advertised that two bands would be participating.

Local Country and Western group

They had no ID but must be from the high school in Blanding

Replica of handcarts pulled by Mormon pioneers

Three local hermits who came to town to enjoy the festivities!

Basket weaving demonstration at the Twin Rocks Trading Post

Our original plans had us leaving Bluff and heading north for a two week stay in Moab.  But we have been to Moab many times and were both anxious to spend some time at our new home in Boulder City, so we cancelled Moab and headed back to Nevada.

The San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff, AZ

After a long drive of almost 450 miles we arrived at our house and quickly backed the motorhome into its new spot.

It fit into the space perfectly, even with the slides out.

We plan to spend the next few weeks here while we settle in.  Then we’ll hop back into the motorhome for a summer trip east to visit family.

But remember, there are many, many hiking opportunities around the Las Vegas area, so we’ll still be lacing up the boots for some exploration.

More on that later . . .

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Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 2 of 3

Bluff, UT

The nimble hiker recently read about a beautiful canyon located west of the town of Blanding, which is 20 miles north of Bluff.  Arch Canyon has three large arches and a number of ancient ruins.  We didn’t go into the canyon, instead driving around it to check out the great view from above.  To get there we drove north from Bluff on US 191 for 22 miles.  We then turned west on UT 95 and drove 19.4 miles to the right turn for the Mule Canyon Trailhead.  After turning off of hwy 95 follow Co. Rd 263 past the trailhead for South Mule Canyon and House On Fire Ruins. Continue for about a mile until just after you cross the North Fork of Mule Canyon and stay left at the fork.  Stay on this road until mile 5.2 where you will reach another fork- stay right on the more well used road and continue to 6.4 miles where you will reach another fork.  If you’re worried about clearance, you can park here and walk the final .2 miles to the overlook, otherwise turn on this road and continue to the parking area.  A narrow point jutting out of the edge of the canyon provides a great viewpoint of the beauty below.

Can you see someone on the point?

Crop the above photo and you can see John a little more clearly

There is a bit of a drop off on the path leading out to the point, but an Eagle Scout project installed a nice ladder allowing easy navigation past that barrier.

The view on the right

The view on the left

See the arch across the canyon to the right of Pam?

Oh, there it is…Cathedral Arch

Lunch with a view

After getting our fill of the gorgeous canyon, we drove back down the road to the bridge that crosses the north fork of Mule Canyon.  On the west side of the bridge is a trailhead to hike up the wash into the canyon.  North Mule Canyon isn’t as popular as South Mule Canyon so we had the place to ourselves.  There are at least six different ruins along the first three miles.

Hiking up North Mule Canyon

About two miles up the wash we passed a granary above us on the cliff to our right.  This granary was our indication to begin watching the north wall for the ruins we were seeking.  But the ruins are hidden as you go up the wash, so we missed them and ended up extending our hike more than a mile.  We finally realized that we had missed them at 3.3 miles and turned around.  Going back down the wash we spotted them as we rounded a bend.  While small in size, the ruins are impressive for the wooden roof still in good condition over one of the rooms.  There are two other alcoves with ruins right near by.

Very well preserved structure with a Kiva in the front

We have one more hike and a parade to talk about to finish our visit to Bluff.  But that will have to wait until the next post.

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